An estimated 708,000 people viewed the total solar eclipse at Nebraska events, generated $127 million in economic activity.
But, will it have long-term impact?
Nebraska Tourism Commission Executive Director John Ricks says there are hard truths to confront.
“We’re generally not on people’s radar as a vacation destination,” Ricks tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview during the 2017 Nebraska Tourism Conference. “Awareness of the state of Nebraska as a vacation destination is low.”
Not during the eclipse, though.
Nebraska soon became one of the go-to states to view the total solar eclipse on August 21st. Local communities latched on to the fact that the 21st was a Monday and planned events throughout the weekend leading up to the big day. The long weekend approach proved successful.
A study conducted by Dean Runyan Associates and Destination Analysts for the Nebraska Tourism Commission pegged the Nebraska eclipse audience at that 708,000 figure. The economic impact came mainly from lodging and fuel. Visitors generally spent three days in the state.
Many of those visitors said they hadn’t taken a vacation in Nebraska before and indicated they planned to return.
Ricks says as many as 400,000 of the out-of-state visitors stated they would consider taking a vacation in Nebraska within the next five years. He says the commission has contracted with a marketing firm to keep them ever mindful of the attractions Nebraska has to offer.
“What this eclipse showed us is that if we can get people here, the experience they have when they are here has made some kind of impression on them so that they’ll be back.”