Hotel prices soar as tourists flock to see solar eclipse

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Solar eclipse should boost local economies

Solar eclipse expected to boost local economies as travelers pay a premium 01:58

Susan Hochman, who for seven years has been planning to travel to see the solar eclipse on April 8, will be shelling out hundreds of dollars for a one-night stay at a modest hotel room in Saranac Lake, New York, which is in the path of the so-called totality.

She’ll be spending $650 to spend one night at a Best Western hotel, where room rates are as low as $99 during less busy periods, according to hotel staff. 

“I thought that was crazy,” the New York City resident said. “I almost died at the $650 rate the Best Western quoted, but at least I can just stay there the one night that I need.”

Hochman booked her accommodations in October of last year. Still, she wishes she had made reservations far earlier. “As much as I had given it forethought, I didn’t plan as much in advance as I should have,” she said. She called the inflated lodging prices “kooky crazy.”

Initially, Hochman had planned to stay at the nearby Saranac Waterfront Lodge, a luxury resort on the lake, with friends. But at $700 a night, with a two-night minimum, the hotel was out of her budget. 

Solar eclipse expected to bring economic boom as millions travel 04:28

The cost for a room with two queen beds and a view of the lake? $2,400. The room rate drops to $1,100 on April 8 on the day of the eclipse, according to the hotel, which added that guests started booking rooms there a year ago.

By contrast, the following night, April 9, the same room costs $131, while on April 15 room rates drop to $111. 

The Hampton Inn in Carbondale, Illinois, also situated in the solar eclipse’s path, doesn’t have any rooms available on either April 7 or 8. 

“We’ve been sold out for months now,” the hotel said. A revenue management team sets the hotel’s rates, which a spokesperson said “are much higher than usual” for the April event.

$1 billion boost

Eclipse-related tourism could pump as much as $1 billion into local economies. All along the roughly 115-mile-wide stretch of land from Texas to Maine, from where the moon’s full blocking of the sun will be momentarily visible, towns are expecting a spike in business as hordes of sky-gazing tourists spend on everything from lodging and dining to souvenirs.

Other types of accommodations, like homes on Airbnb, are also in high demand. There has been a 1,000% increase in searches for stays along the path of totality, according to the home-sharing platform. 

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As of April 7, 2024, over half of the listings on Airbnb are already booked in cities directly in the eclipse’s path. AirDNA

Vacasa, another vacation rental management company, told CBS MoneyWatch that tourists appear most eager to watch the eclipse from the state of Texas, based on searches for homes on its site. Vermont is the second most popular destination, followed by Maine. 

Average daily rates for homes in Burlington, Vermont, are $506. In Dallas, they’re $375. 

Airline ticket prices are up, too. The average flight price to Dallas-Fort Worth, landing on April 7, is $1,900, according to travel site Hopper. 

Eclipse travel tips: What to know if you’re hitting the road to see the solar eclipse on April 8 03:40

For last-minute travelers eager to see the eclipse, Hopper lead economist Hayley Berg offered advice for saving money. 

“Consider staying at hotels outside of the path of totality and driving into the path in the afternoon on Monday,” she told CBS News. “That way you’ll pay a lower rate but can still experience the eclipse.”

Kayak, another travel platform, has launched a tool that lets people search for the lowest-cost hotel destinations on the eclipse’s path of totality. According to Kayak, hotels are cheapest, on average, in Montreal, Canada, which is also a path city. The best rental car deals on average can also be found in Montreal. 

Megan Cerullo

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Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News Streaming to discuss her reporting.

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