Philip Powell, Indiana University Bloomington – Economic Impact of a Solar Eclipse

On Indiana University’s Total Solar Eclipse Week: Special events can bring an abundance of tourism dollars to an area.

Philip Powell, clinical assistant professor of business economics and public policy at the Kelley School of Business, looks into the effects of eclipse tourism.

Executive Director of the Indiana Business Research Center and Associate Clinical Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. He is also an associate editor of Business Horizons, the Kelley School’s academic journal for management researchers and practitioners. Previously, Powell was Associate Dean of Academic Programs on the Indianapolis campus. Before joining the dean’s office, Powell was faculty chair of online graduate programs in Bloomington which earned a number one U.S. News & World Report ranking during his tenure. Powell has received

Economic Impact of a Solar Eclipse

It is a natural phenomenon that lasts for only about four minutes, but that four minutes could mean an influx of people and spending in cities along the 100 mile-wide-path of totality for the solar eclipse on April 8.

In Bloomington, Indiana, the city expects more than 300,000 people flock to the area. Such special once-in-a-lifetime events attract individuals and families with discretionary income ready to spend. Cities along the path of totality can expect a spike in tourism for several days. Multiply the impact of a typical big concert or sporting event by ten to understand the potential economic impact. Restaurants will be overflowing, hotels will be full, and shops will be busy. Businesses and residents can expect a flood of additional income.

In my research on economic development, we look at what drives economic prosperity in regions, especially in the state of Indiana. A hard-to-repeat influx of visitors from far away is an important marketing opportunity for any region. Visibility can be as valuable as a short-term spike in local income. The upcoming eclipse is an opportunity to showcase cities in the path of totality as a destination for relocation by companies, skilled working professionals, and wealthy retirees – assets that can boost a regional economy. 

A study from the South Carolina showed the 2017 eclipse brought more than 1.6 million people to the state, bringing an estimated 269-million dollars to the state’s economy. In Wyoming, a study showed the 2017 eclipse brought $63.5 million in travel spending to the state.

With careful planning, regions can convert big events like a solar eclipse into big economic gain. Hospitality businesses need to be ready to operate at full capacity, and the regions needs to be ready to convince outsiders that their city or state is a spectacular place to live and do business.

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