A complete solar eclipse in April 2024 could mean big tourism for the Wabash Valley.

Renee Henry, director of education at the Terre Haute Children's Museum, on Tuesday told the Vigo County Convention and Tourism Bureau Commission of efforts of other Indiana cities to promote a total solar eclipse.

Here, the complete solar eclipse will take place for about three minutes, approximately 3:04 p.m. to 3:07 p.m. April 8, 2024.

“We have a task force that has been working on this for the past six months,” Henry said. “This is a huge thing. In 2017, people were traveling to Wyoming, Kentucky and Tennessee, and there were huge traffic jams to see this.

"Indiana is jumping in on the event” through the Indiana Tourism Association, Henry said.

“Noblesville is already placing ads in Chicago,” Henry said. “Terre Haute is in a great location with Indiana 63 and U.S. 41 to come in from Chicago. We will be the first largest city” on the state’s western edge to view the eclipse, Henry said.

The idea is to make the eclipse a weekend event, with a concert at The Mill on Sunday of that weekend. Also, Terre Haute Regional Airport is hosting a fly-in for people who want to camp by their planes and then come to eclipse watch parties, Henry said.

The event, based on a 2017 eclipse, could bring as many as 50,000 visitors to the city, Henry said.

“It is expected to be the largest mass travel event in the U.S., so more people will be moving to get to somewhere to see this than any other time,” Henry said.

Wabash Independent Living and Learning Center. Terre Haute is on the edge of the path of totality and will have a better visual, a 'diamond ring' effect, just before totality,” she said.

Vigo County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director David Patterson said promoting this event “is in the wheelhouse” of the CVB and it would support the effort. However, Vigo County has about 2,000 hotel rooms and would be hard pressed to handle 50,000 people, he said.

Josh Alsip with the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce said the event “could be like an air show times three with the amount of traffic going in and out. Some people may choose just to be on the side of the road to see this.”

Other business

In a separate matter, a web management firm is proposing it can ensure Terre Haute’s tourism website complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Mondiso, founded in 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark, proposes to manage the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website to ensure it meets visual compliance by having larger web headers and word descriptions by photos, which enables the visually disabled to hear a site read to them.

A one-year cost to manage the CVB’s website, which is www.terrehaute.com, would be $3,000.

Karrum Nasser, a member of the Vigo County Tourism Commission which oversees the CVB, suggested Patterson contact Danny Wayne of the Wabash Independent Living and Learning Center, who is working to put in audio crossings in downtown Terre Haute.

Nasser said Wayne may have other solutions should the board move forward with web changes.

Additionally, Patterson recommended finding at least three companies that offer the service and then vote “on the best of the three.”

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