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Total solar eclipse is driving travel demand to these Canadian cities: Airbnb | Globalnews.ca

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Interest in travelling to Canadian cities and towns along the path of the total solar eclipse is skyrocketing ahead of the rare celestial event not seen in the country in over four decades.

The eclipse’s path will cross through parts of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador on April 8.

The event is driving tourism in cities and towns that will go into complete darkness, as people from across the country make plans to get a good glimpse of the eclipse.

Data from Airbnb released Tuesday showed that searches for listings in places that are on the totality path have soared for April 5-8, 2024, compared with the same period last year.

“When we crunched the numbers, we found that there was a 300 per cent surge in search for cities along the path of totality on April 8,” said Matt McNama, an Airbnb spokesperson in Canada.

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“There’s a huge amount of interest and I think we’ll see more and more people booking on Airbnb over the next month.”

Montreal and the Niagara Region are the country’s most popular eclipse destinations with the highest number of Airbnb bookings for April 5-8. Hamilton, St. Catharines and Kingston, Ont., are also in the top five.

When searching for an eclipse getaway, people are mostly interested in listings that have big kitchens, amenities, backyards and more outdoor space, McNama told Global News.

The last time the path of a total solar eclipse crossed Canada was in 1979.

For Kingston, Ont., it’s the first time in nearly 700 years that it’s been in the path of a total solar eclipse — and excitement is building up in the city.

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Ashley Bradshaw, destination development manager at Tourism Kingston, said the city has seen an increase in demand from visitors for the weekend leading up to the eclipse.


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“Our hotel partners have been reporting an increase in occupancy as early as fall of 2023, and we do suspect that this will only continue to rise as April 8 comes,” she told Global News in an interview.

Several of the city’s major attractions are planning special events and restaurants are offering eclipse-themed menus, Bradshaw said.

There will be a variety of viewing sites across Kingston, from Lake Ontario Park to Fort Henry Hill on the water, to community centres, public schools and sporting fields.

On the day of the eclipse, the city is also offering free public transportation for residents and visitors to help with the flow of traffic. Additional carpool and park-and-ride options are also available, Bradshaw said.


Click to play video: '‘Once in a lifetime’ total solar eclipse will occur in Kingston, Ont.'


‘Once in a lifetime’ total solar eclipse will occur in Kingston, Ont.


Many people are also capitalizing on this occasion by adding new listings on Airbnb, McNama said.

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“We’re seeing that surge of more people opening up their homes and wanting to earn extra income and be a part of the seminal moment.”

As of Feb. 25, more than 50 per cent of Canadian listings along the eclipse’s path were still available, according to Airbnb.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, aligning perfectly and completely blocking the sunlight.

Typically, a total solar eclipse is visible once roughly every 18 months or once every one to two years from somewhere on Earth, but for a given location this can be a very rare occurrence coming after a gap of centuries.


Click to play video: 'Niagara Falls Total Solar Eclipse Event'


Niagara Falls Total Solar Eclipse Event


Canadian cities are not the only ones that fall on the path of totality.

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The eclipse will be entering over Mexico’s Pacific coast, dashing up through Texas and Oklahoma, and crossing the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and New England, before exiting over Eastern Canada into the Atlantic.

Airbnb data released on Feb. 29 showed a 1,000 per cent increase in searches for stays along the solar eclipse path of totality in the United States.

Austin, along with the Hill Country region in Texas, and Indianapolis are so far the most booked destinations in the U.S. for the April eclipse weekend. They are followed by Cleveland, Dallas, Buffalo, Stowe, and Little Rock, which are among the top 10 for North American destinations to see the eclipse.

In Mexico, Mazatlan takes the top spot for Airbnb bookings.


Photo courtesy: Canadian Space Agency

Dan Falk, a science journalist in Toronto, has travelled across the world and witnessed multiple total solar eclipses, the most recent one in Oregon in 2017.

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For this year, which will be his sixth total solar eclipse, he is planning to be in Texas.

“I have a reservation in San Antonio, but San Antonio is just at the edge of the path,” he told Global News in an interview last month.


Click to play video: 'Solar eclipse behind growing list of school boards rescheduling PA day'


Solar eclipse behind growing list of school boards rescheduling PA day


“So I’m hoping to get just a little bit farther north and west, close to the centreline of the path of totality in southwestern Texas.

“It’ll be this very eerie, kind of surreal phenomenon that’s really not like anything else you can see,” Falk said.

“I’m hoping that lots of people, especially folks who haven’t had the chance to see this phenomenon before, are able to experience this.”

The eclipse will occur between mid and late afternoon, depending on location, in Canada.

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— with files from The Associated Press

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