About 200,000 traveled to southern Illinois for the eclipse: officials

Eclipse as seen in southern Illinois. WGN photo

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Tourism officials in southern Illinois say about 200,000 people traveled to the 16-county region to watch the total solar eclipse.

Carbondale officials estimate that the recent solar eclipse attracted up to 50,000 people to the city. Illinois Office of Tourism Director Cory Jobe says visitor spending in Carbondale is estimated to be $7 million.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale spokeswoman Rae Morrow Goldsmith says an estimated 30,000 people gathered on campus to watch the eclipse, including 14,000 at the stadium.

City Manager Gary Williams says he hopes the success of the city’s largest event in years can serve as “a launching pad to do bigger and better things.”

Event planners say the event went well, but that there were major traffic jams on highways out of southern Illinois following the eclipse.