Mar 13, 2024 - News

Projecting the solar eclipse's impact in San Antonio

<span style="display: block;text-align: center;">Path of the April 8, 2024 eclipse</span>
Data: NASA; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

In less than a month, pretty much everyone in San Antonio will assume the same position: necks craned up toward the sky to get a good look at the total solar eclipse.

Why it matters: As the largest U.S. city in the path of totality, the April 8 natural wonder puts San Antonio on the nation's radar, with the potential to bring a huge boost to our city's tourism economy.

  • Maybe it will be worth it when we're all massaging our sore necks the next day?

The big picture: Areas in the path of totality have been competing for attention from eclipse chasers traveling to see the solar spectacular — Northwest Arkansas, Cleveland and Indianapolis are all drawing tourists.

  • San Antonio has to compete with not only those cities but also nearby eclipse havens like Austin, Dallas, and Hill Country towns like Kerrville, where the population is expected to double or even triple.

Zoom in: Visit San Antonio has been marketing the city to eclipse travelers for over a year, chief marketing officer Andrés Muñoz tells Axios.

  • The organization has run advertisements on social media and promotes its website on search result pages.
  • "We wanted to intercept folks and let them know that San Antonio is an option" for their eclipse travels, Muñoz says.

Hotels in San Antonio have an average of about 60% occupancy throughout a normal year. Visit San Antonio expects that number to be 80% in 2024 because of the eclipse.

  • Most hotels on the Northwest Side, where the view of the eclipse will be best, have already sold out, he says.
  • Hotels downtown and in other areas still have some availability.

Flashback: Hotel occupancy was higher than normal last October when San Antonio was in the path of a partial solar eclipse, Muñoz says.

  • But it's hard to say exactly how much the eclipse impacted hotel stays that month, he said, because that time of year typically sees more visitors to San Antonio for the Día de los Muertos festival.

Reality check: While San Antonio hopes to see a boost, Dallas, Austin and the Hill Country might get even more travel traffic.

  • Austin and Dallas made Airbnb's recent list of popular and most-booked cities along the path of totality. San Antonio didn't, but the Hill Country at large did.

What's next: Locals should plan for traffic to be even crazier than normal around the eclipse.

  • The Texas Department of Transportation warns drivers to be on the lookout for distracted pedestrians looking to the sky and says drivers should not wear eclipse glasses while behind the wheel.

The bottom line: We're about to learn how much all the solar eclipse hype translates into real dollars spent in San Antonio.

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