Central Texas prepares for Solar Eclipse 2024 event

Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 12:22 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 3, 2023 at 11:06 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Even though the solar eclipse isn’t until 2024, that’s not stopping people from planning early to come to central Texas.

Experts predict millions of people coming to the state since it’s one of the best spots to view this once in a lifetime event.

Waco’s assistant director of tourism, Carla Pendergraft, said more people traveling to Waco means more money.

“People have got to see this. Luckily here in Waco, you can just step outside and see it. Northern states are expected to probably be cloudy. So, millions of people are going to be coming south to Texas to take advantage of the possibility for sunny weather.”

Pendergraft said using an economic impact calculator, analysts predict Waco getting nearly $15 million from the event.

“What that means for this area economically is people will certainly be staying at all of the hotels. But restaurants can expect quite a lot of influx. Hopefully, they’ll see what a neat town Waco is,” said Pendergraft.

Hotels and rental space prices have skyrocketed for the event a year away.

If you view dates for this upcoming weekend on Airbnb, prices go up to $155 a night.

However, on the weekend of the solar eclipse, prices go up to $3,800 dollars a night.

Pendergraft said the tourism board has already met with businesses and hotels about spacing for RV slots and lodging overall.

“It’s about everything. It’s about what the event will consist of and what people can expect. Because there is going to be so many people in town and some people will be chasing the eclipse all throughout,” said Pendergraft.

Director of the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, Matt Irvine, said cities with similar population explained that previous solar eclipses were their largest tourist event.

Irvine said Killeen is expecting 300,000 people and are anticipating for the sales tax to benefit residents.

“The people are going to come for lunch, spend their money, and that sales tax is going to fix potholes, pay police officers, those kinds of things. It’ll be a really big deal for local cities in this path,” said Irvine.

Perdergraft said this is one of the city’s largest events and she’s ready for people to see what Waco has to offer.

“Our airport has already gotten 500 inquiries. For a Baylor game, we might get 100. So, it may be five times as big as a Baylor football game. So, we’re excited about it, we can’t wait to show Waco off.”

The Waco Convention Center is having events for the whole eclipse weekend and expects to sell 20,000 tickets.

The center bought more than 60,000 solar glasses for visitors and local school districts.

On April 8, 2024, the solar eclipse will pass at 12:29:41 p.m. in Central Texas that will come and go in about 4 minutes.