CARBONDALE, Ill. — Tourism officials in southern Illinois say about 200,000 people traveled to the 16-county region to watch the total solar eclipse.
Carbondale officials estimated that the recent solar eclipse attracted up to 50,000 people to the city. Illinois Office of Tourism Director Cory Jobe said visitor spending in Carbondale is estimated to be $7 million.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale spokeswoman Rae Morrow Goldsmith said an estimated 30,000 people gathered on campus to watch the eclipse, including 14,000 at the stadium.
“Our biggest challenge of the day was the heat,” Goldsmith said. “We had many visitors to our water-cooling stations, and some admitted to first aid stations.”
The National Weather Service issued a heat and humidity advisory Monday with temperatures in the low 90s.
Goldsmith said university officials will discuss the 2017 turnout before planning for 2024.
“We did have our first inquiry for 2024 tickets and a lot of people have told us they’re coming back,” Goldsmith said.
The university also has created an online countdown for the next eclipse in 2024.
City Manager Gary Williams said he hopes the success of the city’s largest event in years can serve as “a launching pad to do bigger and better things.”
“We want to keep bringing in entertainment and exploring new ways to welcome people to the city and encourage people to come to Carbondale,” Williams said.
Event planners said the event went well, but that there were major traffic jams on highways out of southern Illinois following the eclipse.