April 8 Eclipse Means Big Business for Texas Campgrounds

With an estimated visitor count of more than a million people in Texas for next week’s solar eclipse, RV parks and campgrounds in the Lone Star State are bracing for big business.

Texas is expected to see the greatest number of tourists traveling for the April 8 solar event, according to Michael Zeiler, an eclipse cartographer, of the 12 U.S. states in the path of totality.  Noted Texas economist Ray Perryman estimates those million-plus people will spend more than $400 million, a number dwarfed by the downstream and multiplier effects figure of $1.4 billion in expected economic impacts statewide.

An eclipse already is taking place in Texas RV rental bookings, according to RVshare, the largest RV rental website in the U.S. The company found bookings increased over 700% over the same period last year, a figured topped only in Ohio with a ridiculous 1,060% boost.

The event’s popularity even caught Brian Schaeffer, executive director of the Texas Association of Campground Owners, by surprise.

“Initially, when I heard about the eclipse, I personally didn’t think it was really going to be that big a deal,” he said, until a board meeting with RV park and campground owners in 2023. “Several of them started saying, ‘Yeah, we’ve already sold out the eclipse weekend.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ Believe it or not, over time, we began to realize that as far out as a year ago, these parks were 100% sold out.”

Several of TACO’s 420 member parks still had sites available for RVers as of Wednesday, they told RVBusiness. At least two parks, Highland Hideaway RV Resort in Cleburne and River’s Edge Campground in Johnson City, even chose the weekend to open to the public.

“We’re going to be learning as we go,” said Alanya Berthiume, co-owner of River’s Edge, a destination park located along the Pedernales River in the Texas Hill Country. “It’s kind of a crazy weekend to open. We’re probably opening a little prematurely, but I think it’ll be good enough for people to enjoy and we definitely wanted to open it up.”

Berthiume, who also owns nearby Hill Country Lakes RV Campground in Spicewood with husband Stuart, believes the eclipse, the biggest astronomical event this decade, will be a boon.

“It’s definitely pulling people into our area and hopefully, when they’re looking for places to stay, they’re noticing the campgrounds,” she said. “I’m sure that we’ll get some people that wouldn’t otherwise have come into the area and noticed our property and how much fun it could be.”

Schaeffer agreed, noting the eclipse is a chance for park owners to grow RVing in a way no other single occurrence has ever done.

“I think it’s terrific that they’re putting their best foot forward in hopes that people who’ve never been to their park before, and some may never have camped before, will actually fall in love with camping and then, by extension, fall in love with their property,” he said.

This article originally appeared in RVBusiness.com. 


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