North Ga. Counties Report Economic Boom From Eclipse Tourism | WABE 90.1 FM

North Ga. Counties Report Economic Boom From Eclipse Tourism

Aug 28, 2017

Two North Georgia counties say they experienced an economic boom from last week's eclipse.

Like us on Facebook

Tobie Chandler, tourism director for Blairsville-Union County’s Chamber of Commerce, said she had been planning for nearly a year to handle extra visitors for the eclipse.

"Totality was coming, and right when it started, everybody started cheering and hooting and hollering and applauding, and you just get goosebumps on your body, and that is what made everything absolutely worth it!”

Stores in Blairsville sold handmade eclipse gifts, like this magnet at Beads, Bags and Beyond.
Credit Molly Samuel / WABE

Chandler said she's pleased with early results. Union County has about 23,000 residents.

"With about 15,000 additional people in our community, we're estimating about $250,000 in an economic impact just from the solar eclipse," Chandler said. 

It's a lot of money for Union County. It's nearly the entire annual budget for Union County's public library.

Blairsville-Union County’s Chamber of Commerce President Regina Allison said the county, which hosted nearly 20 official viewing parties, was able to absorb the visitors and traffic.

“The day of the eclipse, traffic was really moving along smoothly, and what we noticed was after it was over and everybody was going home, that’s when we saw the bottleneck of traffic,” Allison said. "There were lines of cars. It was several hours of backup.”

Just an hour south in Dahlonega, tourism director David Zunker, said it's also shaping up to be a $250,000 boon for Lumpkin County, even though it wasn't in the path of the eclipse's totality.

"We got a lot of overflow in Dahlonega and Lumpkin County because most of the properties in the path of totality up around Rabun County were full. So that helped us a lot,” Zunker said. “Most of our hotels were full for the weekend, especially on that Sunday. [Tourists] couldn't find lodging elsewhere.”  

Cities as far south as Dawsonville reported extra visitors on Monday and even the weekend before.

To calculate the preliminary economic impact, counties used the statewide average of $150 spent per day and multiplied that figure with the number of hotel rooms that were booked. Estimated hotel and motel taxes as well as sales taxes were not included in the preliminary estimates for Lumpkin County.

The statewide average includes spending from lodging, shopping, dining, transportation and visits to attractions.