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Vermont’s eclipse in (preliminary) numbers: 160,000 visitors, 60,000 cars

Many people sit or stand in a park on the edge of a lake, as photographed from the air
Kyle Ambusk
/
Vermont Public
Crowds prepared to view the total solar eclipse from Burlington's Waterfront Park at 2:45 p.m. Monday, April 8.

The influx of tourists to Vermont for the total solar eclipse seems to have met state officials’ highest expectations.

The state saw an estimated 60,000 additional cars over the four-day period from Friday, April 5 to Monday, April 8, Secretary of Transportation Joe Flynn said at a press conference Wednesday. The department, working with the University of Vermont, estimated 2.8 people per vehicle, giving the first statewide estimate of eclipse travel: about 160,000 visitors by car.

“It was a lot of traffic, maybe more vehicles and people than we have ever seen in Vermont, especially in such a condensed time period,” Gov. Phil Scott said. “But it seems like most everyone was prepared and took it in stride.”

Before the event, state officials had said 160,000 people was the upper end of their predictions.

But visitors weren’t just coming by car. Vermont’s state-owned airports saw 248 inbound aircraft on Monday alone, 91 of them at Northeast Kingdom International Airport. Amtrak trains — the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express — were sold out in the days surrounding the eclipse.

The huge influx of visitors snarled traffic, slowing Interstate 89 and Interstate 91 until 2 a.m. the following day. But despite that, there were only 10 crashes.

“Given the sheer number of vehicles we saw,” Scott said, “that’s very, very good news.”

Additionally, 16 welcome centers along the interstate saw a total of 34,007 visitors, according to Vermont Emergency Management Director Eric Forand. For comparison, he said, the welcome centers saw around 12,000 people on Indigenous Peoples Day last October.

Lindsey Kurrle, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development said economic data is still forthcoming, but it’s clear there was a positive economic impact at a time of year when tourism dollars are usually slim.

“Our team along with many other partners have been planning this for months and there were a lot of unknowns, but from my perspective the event lived up to the hype, and then some,” Scott said. “And I think it went about as well as we could have hoped, given the significant influx of visitors to our state."

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Corey Dockser is Vermont Public’s first data journalist, a role combining programming and journalism to produce stories that would otherwise go unheard. His work ranges from complex interactive visualizations to simple web scraping and data cleaning. Corey graduated from Northeastern University in 2022 with a BS in data science and journalism. He previously worked at The Buffalo News in Buffalo, New York as a Dow Jones News Fund Data Journalism intern, and at The Boston Globe.

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