2023 annular solar eclipse will be visible in La Pine area, hospitality groups expecting surge – KTVZ

(Sunriver Resorts already has 40-50 more rooms booked for that week than normal)

LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) — An annular solar eclipse, set to be visible in the La Pine area and points south on Oct. 14, 2023, is already catching the attention of tourism and hospitality groups in Deschutes County.

Ann Gawith, executive director at the La Pine Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, said Monday she is expecting a jump in tourists in about a year and a half. 

“It’s going to be a challenge, that’s for sure,” Gawith said. 

Experts say the path of the eclipse will cross the state just south of Bend. (By the way, a total solar eclipse, as Central Oregonians experienced in 2017, will occur on April 8, 2024, and that path moves from Texas through the Midwest and Northeast.)

Annualar solar eclipses, when the moon is centered over the sun but doesn’t completely block it, are different than partial solar eclipses, when the moon crosses but doesn’t completely cover the sun — it just takes a “bite” out of it, so to speak.

But events like the annular solar eclipse, where the moon covers the sun’s center, still attract thousands of people from all over the world. 

 “If you read, it’s an annular eclipse, as opposed to a total eclipse. So whether that makes a difference to the people that follow things around the world, I don’t know,” Gawith said. 

Gawith recalls the last total solar eclipse that was visible over the northern end of Central Oregon, nearly five years ago.

It brought a ton of business to gas stations and restaurants in the area, especially when the highway backed up once it was over. 

“Immediately after the eclipse, everybody left town at the same time,” Gawith said. 

For this eclipse, Gawith is expecting more people in La Pine, staying wherever they can fit.

‘We don’t have a wealth of motel rooms or RV spaces right in La Pine,” Gawith said. “We will be impacted — people are going to be in the woods is what’s going to happen.”

Sunriver Resort tells NewsChannel 21 for that week, it has 40-50 more rooms booked than it normally would this far out, with no conferences or events planned yet.

While it will be a lot to manage, Gawith thinks the eclipse could be good for La Pine.

“They’ll hopefully say to themselves, ‘Gee that was a great little town — we ought to come back here next year, when it’s not so crowded!’” Gawith said. 

She does worry about the weather, with the risk of wildfires and early snow.

But she believes La Pine can handle it.

“But we’ll be prepared — we’ve got great staff, and we’re used to dealing with people, and we’ll just deal with it,” Gawith said. 

Author: systems

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