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Arkansas Should See Big Tourism Boon from Total Solar Eclipse Weekend

Dr. Michael Pakko
Dr. Michael Pakko

While millions of Americans are excitedly looking forward to the total solar eclipse on April 8, Arkansans have another reason to celebrate. The rare celestial event is expected to bring in a large number of visitors and serve as a major boon to the state’s economy.

“This will be one of the biggest tourism events the state has ever seen,” said Dr. Michael Pakko, chief economic and state economic forecaster at UA Little Rock’s Arkansas Economic Development Institute. “I can’t imagine any other event that will have the same significant number of visitors as we will get from this one weekend in Arkansas. We’re expecting to have a lot of visitors come to our region, and visitors tend to spend money so we’re expecting it to have a significant economic impact.”

Pakko estimated that Arkansas can expect to see anywhere from 200,000 to 450,000 people traveling within the state to see the eclipse, with an estimated 75 percent of travelers coming from out of state. That means Arkansas could see between 160,000 to 350,000 out-of-state visitors traveling to see the eclipse.

“I expect that to generate somewhere between $48 and $105 million in value added or GDP (gross domestic product) for the state,” Pakko said. “That could generate about $27 to $60 million in income for Arkansans from the increased business.”

Statistics from states in the path of totality during the 2017 solar eclipse suggest that visitors will spend an average of 3-3.5 days for the solar eclipse, Pakko said.

“The No. 1 category that will be most impacted by the eclipse is lodging, including hotels, motels, campgrounds, rental houses, and even staying with friends. Food and beverage is the next highest category, followed by transportation, recreation, and entertainment. We are looking at a typical tourist profile. People will come in for the weekend, shop, eat out, and look for other entertainment in addition to the solar eclipse.”

Pakko advised that Arkansas businesses should be prepared for increased traffic the weekend before the solar eclipse.

“The best thing to do is to make sure you have plenty of staffing and inventory on hand because it is going to be a very busy weekend,” he said.

As for traffic, Pakko warned Arkansans that they should plan ahead to avoid the post-eclipse traffic.

“The one thing that we should be aware of is traffic snarls,” Pakko said. “The experience of states in the path of totality during the 2017 solar eclipse is that people had staggered arrival times, so there weren’t significant travel issues leading up to the eclipse. As soon as it ends, that is when traffic tie ups are likely to happen. It will be wise to plan to hang out somewhere until the traffic passes.”

You can learn more about Pakko’s economic predictions by visiting and learn more about UA Little Rock’s free solar eclipse celebration at