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Eclipse boosts travel as Americans chase rare celestial event

Eclipse boosts travel as Americans chase rare celestial event

By Nathan Gomes, Deborah Mary Sophia and Akash Sriram

(Reuters) -The upcoming solar eclipse is proving to be a good omen for travel firms, as some parts of the United States that fall in the “path of totality” see unprecedented demand for lodging from eager Americans waiting to catch a glimpse of the celestial event.

In a total solar eclipse occurring on Monday April 8, the moon will blot out the sun for millions of people in Mexico, the United States and Canada.

Airbnb listings along the U.S. path of totality, or the narrow strip stretching from Texas to Maine from where people will be able to view the sun’s corona, have seen occupancy levels skyrocket to nearly 90%, the vacation rental firm said.

Occupancy for all active rental listings across the path in the United States, Canada and Mexico was at 92.4% for the night of April 7, up sharply from about 30% a few days prior, according to travel data firm AirDNA.

“It is a nice bump in demand in a relatively slow period of the year. Typically April isn’t a high point for short-term rental demand,” said Jamie Lane, chief economist at AirDNA.

Short-term rental listings in New Hampshire and Missouri, for example, are seeing demand surge 514% and 338%, respectively, for the week, AirDNA added.

Hotel, rental car and flight bookings have also tripled, data from consultancy firm Navan showed, with room prices in some cities seeing a more than two-fold rise. Niagara Falls, for instance, saw prices surge 249%.

Rental car company Hertz said advanced car bookings for April 6 jumped 3,000% in cities along the path of the eclipse. The company has been preparing for more than a year to meet the rush by boosting staffing and cars in high-demand areas.

With most hotels and rental properties being fully booked or listed at higher prices, some Americans are exploring the options of campsites and recreational vehicles to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.

“Demand for eclipse camping has been huge – we’ve experienced a massive spike in bookings for stays this week,” said Alyssa Ravasio, founder and CEO of camping firm Hipcamp, which saw weekly bookings in the region surge 9,000%.

The company is also seeing a surge in international visitors, with campers from countries including Japan, Iceland, Germany and Australia, Ravasio said.

(Reporting by Nathan Gomes, Deborah Sophia and Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)


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