August total eclipse expected to bring 1 million visitors to Columbia area
Kelly Barbrey, VP Sales and Marketing for Experience Columbia SC has been working to plan events for eclipse weekend for over a year.
Columbia will be the best place on the East Coast to view the total eclipse.
By: Alex Guarino
The population of Columbia, South Carolina is about 133,000 people. In just four months, the city will temporarily see those numbers increase tenfold.
Columbia and its surrounding areas are positioned to be the best viewing location of August's transcontinental eclipse, a spectacle that hasn't graced the country in nearly 100 years.
NASA predicts nearly one million people will travel to Columbia for the August 21 eclipse, because of the ideal viewing location.
City officials are looking at the potential impact this event can have.
"We have definitely recognized that this is a tourist attraction, it's a natural phenomenon but we are definitely viewing it as a tourist attraction for the entire weekend, says Kelly Barbrey, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Experience Columbia SC.
The Experience Columbia SC eclipse committee has spent the past year planning events to fill the entire weekend. There will be viewing parties on the day of the eclipse, including a midday Fireflies Game, a drive-in movie, and guided walking tours of the Congaree National Park.
This potentially record breaking weekend also has the potential to break budgets. With people coming from all over the world, hotel prices have soared to out of this world proportions. Even Airbnbs are going from $600 to over $1000 a night.
For tourists who don't want to miss this once in a lifetime event, there are more cost effective alternatives.
"If they don't want to use a traditional hotel or airbnb, maybe checkout camping, says Barbrey."
The State Fairgrounds is offering camper parking, and many area campgrounds are also working to accommodate the masses expected to visit Columbia.