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Bright, but Not Blinding (Editorial)

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Although there’s no doubt that the April 8 total solar eclipse brought thousands of people to Arkansas, tax collections indicate that some state officials’ predictions of 1 million visitors or more were off the mark.

The state’s tourism tax receipts increased 8.1% in April, with counties in the path of total darkness averaging an 11% surge.

After the eclipse, some in the hospitality industry complained because they had stocked up and staffed up for visitors who never showed up. Who did they blame? Well, some blamed “the media” (we’re used to it!) and some blamed overly enthusiastic state agency officials.

We don’t condemn anyone who lost money because of unrealistic visitor predictions for voicing their anger. We’ll just note that total eclipses in Arkansas don’t happen too often, making predictions about their effects on tourism hard to get absolutely right. And we think that, in general, being overprepared for an event is preferable to being underprepared.

That said, the eclipse did bring thousands to Arkansas, giving the tourism industry a chance to show off our beautiful state and introducing it, in the words of Shea Lewis, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism, “to a whole new audience.”

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