August eclipse expected to be huge economic boon for Greenwood
By: Adam Benson
GREENWOOD, SC - It might be the most lucrative 2 minutes and 28 seconds in the history of Greenwood.
That’s how long the region will be blanketed in darkness on Aug. 21, when a total solar eclipse travels coast-to-coast for the first time in a century.
Totality begins at 2:39 p.m., and like other communities in the eclipse’s path, the Emerald City is expecting to see a massive infusion of tourism dollars in the weekend leading up to the event.
“We did a very conservative projection for anticipated economic development, and we are hoping for AT LEAST $500k-$1M, depending on visitor traffic, hotel room nights, length of stay, etc.,” Kelly McWhorter, director of the Greenwood Regional Tourism and Visitors Bureau, wrote in an email.
With its unique place on the eclipse’s cosmic journey, Greenwood has emerged as a national destination for stargazers hoping for a prime view. Men’s Journal listed the area as one of the top 19 places in the country to best see the phenomenon.
“Because our hotels are sold out, our A-Tax (accommodations tax) revenue will definitely benefit, but it won’t stop there. We expect our hospitality tax revenue to hopefully see an increase with lots of visitors dining in and around Greenwood County,” McWhorter wrote.
Sara Powell, area director of sales for the Paragon Group that manages 236 rooms in Greenwood through its Fairfield Inn, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express properties, said all are nearly booked for eclipse weekend.
“Fairfield is completely booked, Hampton is trailing in right behind that and the Holiday Inn Express has a few rooms left, but we’re going to sell out at all of them,” she said. “We’ve been talking about this in meetings since December.”
To capitalize on Eclipse 2017, McWhorter said Greenwood officials have adopted an aggressive marketing campaign.
“We have done some target marketing to the two to three-hour drive markets via social media, Google search keywords and search targeting. We’ve also interviewed with several travel writers who have passed through here and writing blogs specifically about the eclipse,” McWhorter said. “If you look at the map of the path of totality, Greenwood really is in a great spot for viewing, and having a lake nearby makes us even more attractive.”