Key Stats: Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.

Celebrate with 120+ events all weekend in the Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast

August 18-21, 2017

One of the Southeast’s most vibrant mid-sized cities, Columbia, S.C., is home to the longest total solar eclipse for a metro area on the East Coast and will host Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., a long weekend of more than 120 eclipse-related festivals and events, from Aug. 18 to 21, 2017. Follow @TotalEclipseCAE and plan your Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. at http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.

 

Events

  • 120+ eclipse events will be hosted across the Columbia, S.C. region Aug. 18-21, 2017
  • 25 of these can take 3,000 to 10,000 guests
  • 35 of these can take 500-3,000 guests
  • Total estimated capacity for all 120+ events = room for 180,000 attendees
  • More than 20 events were sold out as of Sunday, Aug. 20, including South Carolina State Museum on eclipse day

Multiple events are showing massive out of market ticket sales: 

  • Ticket sales across South Carolina State Museum’s events have come from 23 states and 8 countries
  • 80% of ticket sales are from out of state (from 29 states incl. entire Eastern Seaboard, Calif. And Oregon) at Cayce’s Soda City Eclipse Viewing Festival at the Speedway
  • 55% of Historic Columbia tickets are from out of state (16 states and 2 countries)
  • Parking pass purchases for the Total Eclipse Tailgate at the S.C. State Fair have come from 28 states and 2 countries
  • Tickets for the Lowcountry Boil and Paella Party at City Roots Urban Farm have come from more than 14 states plus Uruguay and Trinidad & Tobago
  • 32% of runners at Saluda Shoals’ Summer’s End Solar Run 5K are from 11 states outside of S.C.

 

Glasses

  • 100,000 pairs of free glasses will be handed out via majority of events on Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. site
  • 184,000 additional pairs bought using Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. bulk discount and branding are in circulation in area, either at public events or private functions
  • All of the above were manufactured by NASA-endorsed company Rainbow Symphony in Calif.

 

Lodging

  • There are approximately 13,000 units of paid accommodations in the immediate Columbia, S.C. region (comprised of hotels, B&Bs, campsites and year-round vacation rentals across Richland and Lexington Counties). Of these, more than 11,600 units are hotel rooms, spread across more than 120 hotels. 1,624 of those hotel room units are in downtown Columbia, S.C.
    • There are even more rooms if you expand to outer ring counties like Newberry, Saluda, Calhoun, etc.
  • This figure does not include the AirBNB and VRBO rentals that are not normally rented out as vacation rentals, nor does it include home stays, a.k.a. unpaid accommodations.
  • Hotels in the Columbia, S.C., area are at 100% occupancy for Sunday and Monday nights, an estimated 95% for Saturday pm and an estimated 95% for Friday night.
    • Compared with 2016, this reflects a 60% increase on Sunday, Aug. 20, and a 40% increase on Monday, Aug. 21.
  • Population of entire regional MSA is 810,000 people. Total population of just Richland and Lexington Counties totals roughly 689,000 (Richland County: 407,051; Lexington County: 281,833)
  • Newberry, S.C. hotels are reportedly sold out and have been for months.
  • The University of South Carolina pushed its student “move-in day” from Aug. 21 to Aug. 22 to alleviate impact on traffic and lodging. One result is that parents are coming in early and/or staying late to experience the eclipse in Columbia, S.C.
  • AirBNB is having its biggest night ever in SC on Aug. 20, 2017.
    • Additionally, the evening of Aug. 20 will be Charleston’s biggest ever for Airbnb guest arrivals.
    • South Carolina will experience 9,370 Airbnb guest arrivals on the Aug. 20th, which will make it the U.S. state to receive the 2nd largest guest arrivals behind the state of Tennessee.
    • Charleston, S.C. is also the U.S. city to receive the 2nd largest guest arrivals overall for the solar eclipse, and currently, Mt. Pleasant is the 7th, Columbia is the 11th, and Greenville is the 12th.
    • Here are the South Carolina cities and towns with the highest booked guest arrivals (as of Aug. 16) for the evening of Aug. 20th:
City AirBNB Guest Arrivals for Solar Eclipse Increase from Previous Week
Charleston 3220 250%
Mount Pleasant 960 280%
Columbia 740 570%
Greenville 730 350%
Folly Beach 390 60%
North Charleston 350 390%
Isle of Palms 330 180%

 

State of South Carolina Eclipse Tourism Stats

  • Per the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, hotel occupancy along the path of totality possibly could be doubled compared to what S.C. normally sees in 3rd week in August.
  • There are 47 S.C. State Parks.
  • Usually in the third week of August, roughly 60% of S.C. State Parks’ guests are South Carolinians. This year, only 28% are South Carolinians. According to our reservation records, the remaining 72% come from 38 states and several foreign countries.
  • All 28 of the S.C. State Parks within the path of totality are fully booked. Only five S.C. State Parks have availability remaining as of Aug. 15, 2017.
  • Dreher Island State Park, Sesquicentennial State Park, Poinsett State Park are the three S.C. State Parks in or near Columbia, S.C. Dreher Island State Park booked up in June 2017.
  • C. State Parks have confirmed an estimated 2,700 reservations for eclipse weekend, totaling 9,000 reservation nights, including cabins, campsites and day use. Includes reservations from across the U.S. and Canada France, Poland and Germany.

 

Airports

 

  • Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) has seen a 245% increase in flight searches, per Cheapflights.com
  • CAE anticipates that arriving flights, normally 80-85% full in August, saw a boost of roughly 15% across the board over eclipse weekend, and departing flights were 100% full on Tues., Aug. 22, 2017.
  • More than 130 private aircraft will be flying into CAE for the eclipse weekend
  • Columbia, S.C. showed the lowest price increase in flights out of seven cities in the path of totality, at 9% (compared to the likes of 29%, 45% and 75% increases in other markets), per Hipmunk.

 

Website

 

  • Website sessions at www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com have been increasing steadily all summer and spiked to 40,085 on Monday, Aug. 21 after jumping to 18,375 on Aug. 18; 19,969 on Aug. 19; and 33,786 on Aug. 20.
  • There were a total of 385,171 website sessions in the last year (Aug. 21, 2016 to Aug. 21, 2017).
  • Top out-of-market referring cities: Charlotte; Atlanta; Raleigh, N.C.; New York City; Washington D.C.
  • Top 8 referring cities between Aug. 21, 2016 and Aug. 21, 2017: Charlotte (13.5%), Columbia (11.8%), Atlanta (5.6%), Raleigh, N.C. (2.45%), Lexington, S.C. (2.4%), Irmo, S.C., (2.2%), Washington D.C. (2%), New York City (1.9%)
  • Top out-of-market referring cities between Aug. 21, 2016 and Aug. 21, 2017 in descending order: Charlotte; Atlanta; Raleigh, N.C.; New York City; Washington D.C.; Orlando; Durham, N.C.; Nashville; Augusta; Aiken; Cary, N.C.; Philadelphia; Greensboro, N.C.
  • 39% of sessions between Aug. 21, 2016 and Aug. 21, 2017 referred from the U.S. (378,974), while .35% of web traffic came from Canada (1,353 sessions), .20% from the UK (785), .07% from Germany (255), .05% from India (194) and .05% from Russia (189).

 

Media

  • More than 7 million estimated regional, national and international media coverage views for the eclipse in the Columbia, SC region and counting
  • Major media coverage for region has quadrupled and counting, compared to prior year
  • Multiple national and international news media will be reporting from Columbia, S.C. on eclipse day

 

Retail

  • Sales at South Carolina State Museum store more than tripled as of early August, up 266% from same time last year.
    • Sales on Aug. 20 totaled $37,000, more than doubling the South Carolina State Museum’s previous 30-year record of $17,000 in one day.
    • A conservative estimate of revenue projections overall from the eclipse at the South Carolina State Museum equals $375,000.
  • Local small businesses such as Frenzy (local t-shirt company) saw business increase by 15% to 20% or more.

 

Economic Impact

While economic impact cannot be calculated until after the eclipse (likely mid- to late September), here are recent stats from the local and state level:

 

Columbia, S.C. Tourism Stats, via Experience Columbia, S.C.

  • Direct visitor spending in the Columbia, S.C. region (defined by Experience Columbia, S.C. as Richland & Lexington Counties) in 2016 generated more than $2.1 billion in total business sales including indirect and induced impacts.
  • Nearly 21,000 jobs (6.4% of total regional employment) were sustained by visitors to the Columbia, S.C. region in 2016.
  • Tourism in the Columbia, S.C. region generated nearly $107 million in state and local taxes in 2016.
  • In fiscal year 2015-2016, the Columbia, S.C. region hosted approximately 115 conventions, generating $24.6 million in economic impact from conventions alone.
  • The Columbia, S.C. region saw 14.7 million visitors in 2016, 5.5 million of whom were overnight visitors.

From Capital City Lake Murray Country tourism district (defined as Richland, Lexington, Newberry and Saluda counties): Numbers at Lake Murray are anticipated to exceed the lake’s annual July 4th celebrations, which normally have over 120,000 people. The Lake Murray Dam park sites will be full to capacity, and Dreher Island State Park sold out of campsites and day use passes in June 2016.

 

State of South Carolina Tourism Stats via Discover S.C.

  • Tourism generated a $20.2 billion in economic impact in S.C. in 2015.
  • Tourism supports one in every ten jobs in South Carolina.
  • The total population of S.C. is 4.9 million based on the 2016 census.

 

Why is Columbia, S.C., a Top Destination for Viewing?

  • The New York Times, the UK’s Telegraph, USA Today, Fodor’s Travel, Today.com, Forbes, The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, Buzzfeed, Newsweek, the Washington Post, Orbitz, Expedia and more have covered Columbia, S.C., some naming the region as one of the best places to watch the eclipse because of its lengthy duration of “totality.”
  • Columbia, S.C., has the longest totality on the East Coast for a metro area, at 2 minutes and 36 seconds. (The longest in the country is 2 min. 41 sec. in the central U.S.)
  • Travelers from Europe have already booked their trips to the area to witness the eclipse.
  • Columbia, S.C., is the third largest city in the U.S. to be on the center line of totality.
  • Columbia, S.C., is the largest city in South Carolina with the longest period of totality.
    • Columbia: range is from 2 min. 30 sec. to 2 min. 36 sec., depending on your location within the metro area | Charleston: 1 min. 30 sec. | Greenville: 2 min. 10 sec.
  • NASA estimates that the entire state of S.C. could see 1 million visitors if the weather is clear
  • C. is 1 of only 10 states through which the center line of totality passes.
    • Being on the center line is the most important for viewing the longest totality.

 

Why is This Total Solar Eclipse So Important?

  • First transcontinental total solar eclipse in 99 years; the last one to cross the U.S. coast to coast was in 1918. (The 1918 total solar eclipse was not visible from Columbia, South Carolina.)
  • First total solar eclipse in the continental US since 1979, visible from only five states in the Northwest United States (38 years ago). There was a total eclipse over Hawaii in 1991 and the last total solar eclipse over South Carolina was visible only from the coastal region in 1970.
  • Projected to be the most viewed total eclipse in history
    • Access for millions of people via technology, social media, highway accessibility, etc.
    • An unforgettable experience for which people travel globally
  • The next time a total solar eclipse will be visible from the greater Columbia, S.C., area is 2078.
  • The path of totality is only 70 miles wide, and the speed of the moon’s shadow will range from 1500 mph to 1700 mph as it crosses the nation.
  • 30 counties in South Carolina are within the path of totality.
  • At the S.C. State House at Gervais and Assembly, totality will begin at 2:41:51 p.m. and end at 2:44:20 p.m. Check your exact time of totality at http://www.eclipsecountdown.com.

Who is Leading This Effort?

The steering committee for Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. includes Experience Columbia, SC; the City of Columbia, S.C.; Capital City Lake Murray Country; the South Carolina State Museum (S.C.’s Solar Eclipse Headquarters for education and training); the Columbia Fireflies Minor League Baseball team; and One Columbia for Arts & History.

 

Major sponsorship is provided by the City of Columbia, S.C., with support from the City of Cayce, S.C. and Richland County, S.C. Sponsorship opportunities are available for branded presence in this campaign via the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. website: http://totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com/

 

About Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.

One of the Southeast’s most vibrant mid-sized cities, Columbia, S.C., is home to the longest total solar eclipse for a metro area on the East Coast and will host Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., a long weekend of more than 120 eclipse-related festivals and events, from Aug. 18 to 21, 2017. At 2:41 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, viewers in the greater Columbia, S.C., area will experience up to 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness in the middle of the afternoon. NASA estimates that South Carolina could see an influx of up to 1 million visitors to witness the U.S.’ first transcontinental total solar eclipse in 99 years. The Columbia, S.C., region’s long weekend of 120+ eclipse events includes a variety of large and small festivals; kid-friendly/family activities; food & drink parties; outdoor river and lake adventures; education, science & history events; art, film & music happenings and more. Dubbed the “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast,” Columbia, S.C., has been named a top U.S. viewing city, with coverage by the New York Times, USA Today, Buzzfeed, Newsweek, Fodor’s Travel, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, the UK’s Telegraph, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and others. Follow @TotalEclipseCAE and plan your Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. at http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com

 

About the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. Campaign

Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. is a regional tourism campaign that was founded to create economic impact in the Midlands by inspiring local groups to host more than 120 eclipse events across the long weekend of Aug. 18-21, 2017, amplifying their efforts with a national public relations and marketing campaign, raising awareness of the Columbia, S.C. area as a vibrant, authentic destination filled with cool things to do all year round. Learn more at http://www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/totaleclipsecae  | Twitter and Instagram: @TotalEclipseCAE

Hashtags: #TotalEclipseCAE | #RealColumbiaSC

 

Media Contacts:

Tracie Broom, co-founding partner, Flock and Rally, 415.235.5718, tracie@flockandrally.com

Andrea Mensink, director of communications, Experience Columbia SC, 507.993.7178, amensink@experiencecolumbiasc.com

 

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