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The Eclipse: Arkansas’ Chance to Shine (Editorial)

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With the solar eclipse April 8, Arkansas has an unparalleled chance to shine, with much of the state in the path of totality.

As Kyle Massey reports, the eclipse is likely to be the biggest single tourist event in state history. At least that’s how Michael Pakko, the chief economist and state economic forecaster at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute, sees it. If the event draws 350,000 visitors to the state, the higher end of estimates, that will create an economic impact of $105.39 million, Pakko estimates.

This opportunity to showcase the state’s many attractions puts a lot of pressure on the state’s tourism and hospitality officials, as opportunity often does. But it also puts pressure on Arkansas law enforcement, highway officials and emergency services, as Marty Cook details. That many visitors, unfamiliar with the state and its roads, highways and terrain, will undoubtedly cause logistical problems. In addition, some of those visitors may be less than well-behaved.

It will be up to state officials to ensure that any problems that arise are minimized and solved in a professional and, in the best circumstances, friendly manner.

Arkansas has had several years to plan for the eclipse. We’re hopeful that its citizens will take full advantage of this rare event.

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