Friday, July 28, 2017

Upcoming Eclipse Expected to Raise Thousands in Revenue for Small Towns Throughout America

Eclipses are one of the only astronomical phenomena that can be seen from Earth without the aid of a telescope or other viewing device. Because of that, an eclipse can be an exciting event for locals and tourists alike. They are so uncommon that people travel from miles around to be able to see one. This year especially has been a big deal, because the so-named "Great Solar Eclipse," happening next month, is the first total solar eclipse to be seen in America in nearly 100 years. According to Rachel Spacek's L.A. Times article, the eclipse is expected to raise thousands of dollars in revenue for individuals and businesses alike across the country.

An eclipse is any obscuring of the light of one celestial body by another. Lunar eclipses can happen when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun, in which case, the Earth's shadow passes over the moon and blocks its light. In the case of the upcoming Great American Eclipse, however, the moon will be passing directly in between the Earth and the Sun, which will block all but a corona of the Sun's light from reaching the Earth. Because of the relative sizes of the celestial bodies, lunar eclipses are far more common than solar eclipses, which makes the Great American Eclipse all the more exciting for viewers.

Although over 12 million Americans live somewhere in the "path of the totality," which is the area where people will be able to view the total solar eclipse in its entirety, millions more are going to be coming into town for the day, just to watch the phenomenon occur. The increased tourism, even just for a day or two, is expected to provide huge boosts to the economies of many small towns along the path. In states like Idaho, where the cost of living is usually very low, residents are taking advantage of the supply-and-demand aspect of the upcoming event and aiming to make a lot of money off of out-of-towners. Some are using sites like Airbnb to list a bedroom for over $1,000 on the night before the eclipse. Hotels have been sold out for months, if not years, and some people are even spending hundreds of dollars to camp out in people's backyards.

Souvenir companies are also making a killing off of the upcoming eclipse. From glow-in-the-dark T-shirts to temporary tattoos and luggage tags, people are selling anything and everything related to the eclipse. People are traveling for miles and paying thousands of dollars to see the eclipse, so it makes sense that they also want souvenirs to help remember the experience. Not only are online businesses getting a boost, but local businesses in towns along the path are expected to face a rush of new customers during the week of the eclipse. Restaurants are stocking up on menu items and are planning to truck in their employees to increase the number of available parking spots. Even Porta-Potty rentals are doing well in expectation of the increased number of people.

Supply-and-demand really is the name of the game. Tourists are looking for a place to stay and are willing to pay the money for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so why shouldn't the small town residents make money off of it. No one is forcing people to go out and view the eclipse. It seems comparable to an amusement park charging high prices for patrons to get in. If people want to ride the roller coasters, they need to pay whatever price was set. And, for these small towns along the path of the totality, this chance to boost their local economy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as another total solar eclipse won't happen for several decades.

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