Cities and towns across the United States are preparing for a massive influx of tourists and tourism dollars, as the 2024 total solar eclipse is less than a year away.
Thirteen states are in the path of totality for the April 8, 2024, eclipse. Many are using the 2017 eclipse as a roadmap of what to expect.
Including the town of Stowe, Vermont, where they are expecting to see more than two and a half minutes of totality. Totality occurs when the sun becomes completely blocked by the moon during a solar eclipse.
"It's going to be huge," said Jennifer Greene, who serves as marketing manager for GoStowe.
Like many other communities nationwide, the population of this town is expelled to swell. Hotels and Airbnb rentals in the Stowe area are already booking up, more than nine months before the eclipse happens.
"We are saying book early, book as soon as you can. That's been our messaging since day one," Greene said.
The eclipse is expected to generate millions in tourism dollars nationwide. In Stowe, which is a popular East Coast skiing destination, the sun's disappearance comes at a perfect time for businesses: right at the end of ski season.
"It's going to be a bump, and for us, it's coming at a time of year when we don't see huge numbers," Greene added.
The event is also expected to draw in photographers from across the globe, including Brian Drourr, who lives in Vermont and has spent years photographing the sky at night.
"I have backup plans to backup plans to get to where the sky is clear," Drourr said about the 2024 eclipse.
Drourr added he is admittedly still riding the high of seeing the 2017 solar eclipse. Images from the last total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. fill his Instagram page and photography website. Drourr says part of the draw for the eclipse is that so many Americans live in cities and towns with a lot of light pollution and struggle to see stars at night. But it's fairly easy for those in the eclipse's path to witness the event.
"It's indescribable; it's an event that will leave you speechless. Very few things will do that," he added.
In 2017, more than 20 million people traveled to see the eclipse. An estimated 32 million people in the United States already live in the path of the 2024 eclipse. Cities like Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo will all experience totality.
While the eclipse is nine months away, experts say the time to prepare is actually right now. Solar safety glasses and camera filters are expected to be in short supply as April 8, 2024, nears.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime event," said Jack St. Louis from the Vermont Astronomical Society.
Jay Buckey, a retired astronaut, hopes the eclipse is the catalyst that draws the next generation of space scientists in.
"For kids to have exposure to these things, and to let their imaginations run, and then they'll be our future explorers," Buckey said.
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