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Hotels reach 100% capacity as Midlands braces for Total Eclipse

NASA has estimated that S.C. could see an influx of up to 1 million visitors or more to witness this eclipse. This number could increase up to 2 million per recent projections.

There is a collective capacity of 180,000 across all 120 events over the long weekend. The population of the entire Columbia, S.C. region is 689,000 (Richland and Lexington Counties) plus an additional 231,000 people in adjacent counties.

Here are some quick stats and regional data collected during the Total Eclipse Weekend:


  • Ticket sales across SC State Museum’s events are from 23 states and 8 countries.
  • 80% of ticket sales are from out of state (from 29 states incl. entire Eastern Seaboard, Calif. And Oregon) at the Soda City Eclipse Viewing Festival at the Speedway in Cayce
  • 60% of Historic Columbia tickets are from out of state (at least 16 states and 2 countries)
  • Ticket sales for Total Eclipse Tailgate at the S.C. State Fair have come from 28 states and 2 countries
  • Tickets for the Lowcountry Boil and Paella Party at City Roots Urban Farm have come from more than 14 states plus Uruguay and Trinidad & Tobago.


Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) has seen a 245% increase in flight searches, per Cheapflights.com, and more than 130 private aircraft are flying into CAE for the eclipse. Departing flights on Aug. 22 will be 100% booked. 

There are roughly 11,600 hotel rooms in the Columbia, S.C., area. Hotels are at 100% occupancy for Sunday and Monday nights, and an estimated 95% for Friday and Saturday night. Some hotels have reported 100% occupancy from Thursday through Wednesday.

Airbnb vacation rental bookings for Aug. 20 are up by 570% compared to the prior week. 40% of Columbia’s 740 Airbnb bookings on Aug. 20 are people renting their homes via Airbnb for the first time. Airbnb will bring in $2 million across SC for the eclipse, w/9500 bookings statewide on Aug. 20.

All 28 of the S.C. State Parks within the path of totality are fully booked. Normally, roughly 60% of S.C. State Parks’ guests in the 3rd week of August are South Carolinians. This year, only 28% are South Carolinians. 72% are coming from 38 states and several foreign countries.

Sales at South Carolina State Museum store have more than tripled as of early August, up 266% from same time last year. Conservative revenue projections for the museum from the eclipse equal $375,000.

A coalition of six regional tourism organizations and attractions banded together in Summer 2016 to launch the campaign, including Experience Columbia, SC; the City of Columbia; Capital City Lake Murray Country; the South Carolina State Museum; the Columbia Fireflies Minor League Baseball Team; and One Columbia for Arts & History.

Major sponsorship is provided by the City of Columbia, S.C., with key support from Experience Columbia, S.C., and assistance from the City of Cayce, S.C. and Richland County.

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