In April 2023, tens of thousands of eclipse chasers will descend on WA to see a Total Solar Eclipse. Exmouth will be the best place on the planet to witness this special astronomical event.
The logistics and preparation for a crowd of up to perhaps 50,000 visitors traveling to a small part of WA’s Ningaloo coastline will be a challenge. At the same time the event will shine an international spotlight on the State’s tourism assets, including its world-class dark night sky. It presents WA with a unique opportunity to capitalise on an Astrotourism boom that’s fast approaching.
WA’s Astrotourism Towns Are Getting Prepared
Astrotourism WA commenced the Astrotourism Towns Project in 2018 and has created a stargazing trail through WA’s regional communities. The project aims to increase overnight visitation, grow jobs, businesses and the regional tourism economy.
Carol Redford, Astrotourism WA chief executive, has been working with 15 Local Governments across the Mid West and Wheatbelt regions. Over the past few years, the regional communities have been gaining a lot of knowledge about astronomy, stargazing, an understanding of how light pollution affects the quality of the night sky and what we can do to protect the dark sky asset.
Light pollution is increasing by 2% every year and has quickly reduced humanity’s ability to see the stars. More than 80% of the world’s population live under a light polluted sky and one third of the world’s population, more than 2 billion people, can no longer see the Milky Way.
Western Australians are still fortunate to have easy access to a pristine dark night sky. Perth is the most isolated capital city on a continent and is home to 80% of the State’s population. This means WA has a vast open area with low populations, low levels of light pollution and one of the darkest night skies on the planet.
Astrotourism is trending internationally. People now travel to see a dark night sky and astronomical events such as eclipses, just as they would to other icons such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Amazon Rainforest or Antarctica.
The “Where are you from?” map at the Oregon SolarFest shows how travellers came from all over the world to be in the USA for the “Great American Eclipse” in 2017
Solar eclipses are a regular phenomenon with two to five occurring every year. What is a solar eclipse and what is special about the 2023 event?
Total Solar Eclipses draw large crowds and people, referred to as “Eclipse Chasers”, who travel from far and wide to stand in the shadow of the Moon. There are dedicated eclipse travel companies that prepare for these events many years in advance.
Carol travelled to Madras, Oregon in the United States in August 2017 to witness the “Great American Eclipse”. It’s estimated that the town of 7,000 residents welcomed 100,000 visitors and realised an economic windfall of $9M.
Exmouth will feel the same effects. Accommodation has been booked out for over a year and the pressure to ensure visitors enjoy a safe and positive experience is building.
The event will attract world-wide attention. International media will cover the story and send images of WA around the globe, creating an extraordinary opportunity to promote WA as a destination for stargazing, astronomy and astrophotography.
“It’s incredible when you think about it. This is all for an event that literally lasts for 1 minute and 15 seconds! It’s important that we help Exmouth through the event and at the same time capitalise on the global spotlight. The world’s media will be beaming out the story to every corner of the globe and this will have flow on effect for our tourism industry for many years after.” – Carol Redford, CEO, Astrotourism WA.
Opportunity to Hear Eclipse Update
Carol Redford will be providing a presentation at this year’s Perth Airport WA Regional Tourism Conference which is to be held in Geraldton from 3-5 May 2021. She will be speaking at the morning session on Tuesday, 4 May 2021. Conference delegates will hear an update on the eclipse event and what it means for WA.