Sold-out hotels. The world’s largest viewing location. Traffic congestion. A spoken-word performance by William Shatner.

It’s all coming to Indiana on April 8, when a total solar eclipse will shroud the majority of the state in eerie midday darkness.

In Illinois, cities like Carbondale are gearing up for a repeat as the path of totality passes over a similar region that experienced the eclipse in 2017. The state anticipates up to 300,000 people packing into southern cities and towns for what officials are calling a twice-in-a-lifetime celestial spectacle.

The once-in-a-lifetime event in Indiana is expected to draw a half million people, putting it in the running for what could be the largest single-day tourism event in state history.

But will it all translate into dollar signs for the Indiana and Illinois cities and counties anticipating a flood of visitors?

It depends, according to Speros Angelos Batistatos, the former longtime director of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority in Hammond, Indiana.

“I think it’s all somewhat subjective and somewhat relative,” said Batistatos, a visiting teacher at Purdue University Northwest.

Just because people visit a place doesn’t mean they will spend money there, he explained. Those coming to simply experience the eclipse in a remote area likely won’t interact with any businesses.

“I think there’s more of a personal kind of a self-actualization portion to this,” Batistatos said. “It’s less monetary and economic.”

Even in Carbondale, which saw around 30,000 people flock to the city in 2017, officials reported the economic impact was lower than expected.

Cinnamon Wheeles-Smith, executive director of Carbondale Tourism, said the whole experience was “somewhat baffling.”

“I’m not sure what we accomplished,” she told the Carbondale Times in 2018. “If it was to show off Carbondale and the area, we succeeded. If it was to make a huge economic impact, I’m not sure we did that.”

The real spenders are the diehard eclipse enthusiasts who will come to the states with cameras and other gear, explained Batistatos. Those people will stay the night in a hotel, spend money at restaurants and buy merchandise.


Eclipse tourism has existed in the U.S. since the 1870s, when the first widely known and heavily publicized one occurred in Colorado, according to Jonathan Day, a tourism professor at Purdue University.

Those from the East Coast and Europe loaded on to trains to head to the state to see the spectral phenomena from the mountain tops during what became known as the Great Eclipse of 1878, he explained.

“People are fascinated by eclipses and have always traveled to go and see them,” Day said.

Like in the past, this year’s eclipse will draw people from all over the country and the world to Indiana and Illinois, he noted, and that influx is sure to provide a short-term financial boost to the state.

In South Carolina during the 2017 eclipse, officials there reported the event had a $269 million economic impact. Indiana tourism administrators are using South Carolina numbers as a reference point for what to expect.

The 2017 event in Illinois generated around $8 million towards the state’s economy, according to Vanessa Sneed, the director of business innovation and research at SIU Innovation and Economic Development.

Officials want to bring in even more money from this year’s event, she said in January during a eclipse workshop.

That kind of impact is significant but modest, compared to other major events like the Indy 500.

For the entire month of May, when the race is held, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway generates $566 million toward the state’s economy, according to a 2023 study by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute.


The short-term financial gain from the eclipse is welcome, but state officials are taking the long view on how to get the most out of the event, explained Amy Howell, vice president of tourism, marketing and communications at the Indiana Destination Development Corporation.

The overarching goal will be to use the eclipse to showcase all that Indiana offers in the hopes that first-time visitors will come again or even consider moving to the state, she said.

That’s why the IDDC’s eclipse website provides links that highlight top-rated schools, childcare options and city profiles that list available jobs and houses in those areas.

“We hope to capitalize and have a ripple effect with those people so they will at least give Indiana another shot,” Howell said.

Conveying that message mostly comes down to marketing, she explained. The IDDC is spending about $15,000 on targeted digital advertising in areas they expect will see the most visitors.

The agency also plans to ping cellphones in geographical areas of the eclipse with messaging aimed at encouraging out-of-state visitors to make another trip back, Howell noted.

“We’ve been preparing not only for the eclipse but also on how to target all of these people and show them what Indiana has to offer,” she said.

The Illinois Office of Tourism is taking the same approach. Its online eclipse guide highlights roadside attractions, trails, businesses and artisans located in the path of totality to lure visitors back for return trip to the state.
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