89 F
Saturday, June 15, 2024

Sky-High Impact

Southwest Indiana saw an influx of cash and people for the April 8 solar eclipse.

Being in the totality path for the Great American Eclipse on April 8 was a rare spectacle that brought significant economic impact to Southwestern Indiana.

As reported in a March/April 2024 Evansville Living story, projections ahead of the event from Explore Evansville estimated a boost of nearly $8 million with 80,000 projected visitors.

That visitors total apparently wasn’t quite achieved — preliminary data collected for Explore Evansville using device counts from software company Zartico Inc. showed 69,099 people in the area.

But there was still significant traffic, and guests streamed into the area with open wallets.

STR, a hotel market data specialist, found that the city saw a 214 percent year-over-year increase in hotel revenue and a 58 percent increase in occupancy from April 4-9.

Zartico also identified a 25.5 percent increase in total visitor spending and an average visitor spending change of $374 over the same period. According to Zartico, the highest number of out-of-state visitors arrived from Louisville, Kentucky, while Nashville, Tennessee, also was well-represented.

Adam Trinkel, Executive Director of the Downtown Evansville Economic Improvement District, noted to Evansville Business that software company Placer.ai showed more than 17,000 people Downtown throughout the entire day on April 8, compared to 10,000 the previous Monday.

Social media engagement spiked during the eclipse, with Explore Evansville reporting a social media reach of 545,400 people, 782,691 paid impressions, and 251 content interactions.

Although the total number of eclipse glasses distributed throughout the area is unknown, a few organizations have provided a glimpse. The Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library distributed 29,000 glasses, at least 600 were distributed at Willard Public Library, while an additional 2,500 glasses were sold by Downtown Evansville.

Following the eclipse, the Evansville African American Museum began collecting used glasses that, barring damage or defects, eventually will be donated to Astronomers Without Borders.

Museum officials say they need more volunteers to sort and pack the eclipse glasses after the museum received more than 100,000 glasses, far exceeding the museum’s original estimate. Volunteers thus far have processed about 8,000 glasses.

“This has been a surprising, overwhelming, yet deeply rewarding experience,” says Rheann Driskell, the museum’s programs development manager. “Knowing that through this process 100,000-plus pairs of glasses were saved from the landfills, with an as-yet-unknown number of those going to future eclipse sites around the world, this has also been a very moving and humbling experience.”

Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

Related Articles

Latest Articles