Solar Eclipse 2024: How Environmental Events Boost Small-Market Tourism

Esther Fabian, Account Director

The term "tourism" often conjures images of busy streets, landmarks and crowded attractions. However, nestled down less-traveled paths are many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.  

Lesser-visited cities, often overshadowed by their larger counterparts, offer their own unique charm and allure not found in bigger metros. And what better way to uncover these hidden gems than through the lens of environmental events that are driving tourism? 

Tourism of this kind can be an approach for destination organizations to encourage exploration of natural environments and offer a compelling invitation to delve into their communities. Those interested are often drawn to visit spaces off the beaten path, immersing themselves in the locale and natural habitats not found in large, built-up cities.  

Some natural events can be viewed year-round, such as the northern lights in the Arctic. Many are annual opportunities, like the iconic cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., or the lesser-known monarch butterfly migration and firefly mating seasons. Others are even more coveted and rare, such as the total solar eclipse happening today.  


Natural events such as the total solar eclipse have the power to reveal hidden gems in smaller markets. One of the most appealing aspects is the opportunity to have visitors engage with local communities. These events attract tourists and crowds, shining a spotlight on locations that may otherwise go unnoticed. As visitors flock to witness the awe-inspiring phenomenon of a total eclipse, they also have a chance to explore the surrounding areas and discover the attractions and natural wonders that are available.  

In smaller markets, where traditional tourism is less prevalent, these events present a unique opportunity for communities to gain exposure with a larger audience than would otherwise be possible. This exposure can be a game-changer in these markets, as it brings in new visitors and boosts local businesses. 

Additionally, these types of events provide a stage for local communities to showcase their environmental treasures. By organizing related events and activities, such as guided nature walks, stargazing sessions and educational workshops, smaller markets can highlight their ecological diversity and create memorable experiences for tourists. These events not only provide entertainment but also educate visitors about the importance of environmental conservation. By revealing hidden gems and promoting sustainable practices, natural events can leave a lasting impact on both tourists and the local community. 


The solar eclipse is a rare and captivating phenomenon that captures the attention of people worldwide. Marketers and organizations can leverage these environmental events to create unique moments, attract tourists to smaller markets and capitalize on those visits.  total solar eclipse event in Toledo

By organizing eclipse viewing parties, science exhibitions, or photography contests, marketers can tap into the excitement surrounding environmental events like the solar eclipse and create opportunities for engagement with new audiences.

A few examples: 

1. Information Hub. Brands can support local organizations’ efforts related to an event. For example, Destination Toledo provides a convenient list of birding hot spots to help flocks (pun intended) of visitors to Northwest Ohio (the Warbler Capital of the World) plan their annual visits. Of course, the website provides details on where to eat, stay and shop when they aren’t trekking the many birding spots in the area. 

2. Experiential Marketing. Create immersive brand experiences that complement the event. For example, Imagination Station will provide an immersive, family-friendly Solar Eclipse Viewing Party with food, games and plenty of hands-on science activities the entire day. 

3. Social Media Campaigns. Utilize social media to connect with audiences interested in these events. Campaigns can encourage users to share memories and photos using branded hashtags, and offer prizes or recognition for the best post. This approach can amplify brand visibility and engage a wider audience.

4. Eco-Friendly Initiatives. Align the brand with environmental conservation efforts by promoting eco-friendly behavior among attendees. This could involve providing water bottle filling stations like the Atlanta Airport or offering ecotours that educate participants about the local ecosystem during coral spawning events. 

5. Educational Content and Workshops: Promote educational content and workshops that provide added value to attendees. For example, award-winning Metroparks Toledo offers naturalist-led eclipse viewing parties at two of their parks and extensive resources for the spring birding migration.

6. Location-Based Services. Use geofencing technology to send notifications or special offers to mobile devices when consumers are near an event location. This could include discounts at local stores, invitations to exclusive brand-sponsored events or interactive challenges that encourage exploration of the area. 

7. Virtual Engagement for Remote Audiences. For those unable to attend the events in person, brands can offer virtual experiences or live streams, like this webcam for those interested in checking out the northern lights.


In addition to the immediate economic benefits, environmental events have the potential to make more of a lasting impact on smaller markets. By showcasing the natural beauty and things to do in each destination, not only can you attract visitors, but also foster a deeper appreciation for the environment and local communities. This heightened awareness can lead to increased conservation efforts and a sense of stewardship among residents and visitors. Furthermore, as sustainability becomes an increasingly important consideration for travelers, smaller markets that embrace this can position themselves as leaders in responsible tourism practices, attracting eco-conscious travelers seeking authentic and meaningful experiences. 

Natural wonders don’t require site visits to determine where they’re going to happen – it doesn’t matter if it’s a big city or what some would deem the middle of nowhere. This provides an exciting and desirable opportunity for smaller markets to highlight supplemental activities to round out a unique and memorable visit. It also can be an important reminder to residents that their community is special and something to show off to out-of-town family and friends.  

By harnessing the solar eclipse phenomenon, marketers can leverage the power of natural events to attract tourists, create memorable experiences and strengthen the local economy. 


We're counting down the hours until the total solar eclipse and here at our headquarters in Toledo, we are lucky enough to be in the path of totality! 

As the total solar eclipse in 2017 proved, the eclipse will be a magnet for millions of people across the nation. The number of visitors expected in Ohio is anywhere from 139,000 - 556,000 and it is estimated that there are 7,275,000 individuals living inside the path of totality.

The total solar eclipse visits Ohio on April 8 beginning at 3:08 pm EDT with the final exit of the Moon’s shadow from the state at 3:19 pm EDT. 

Want to learn more about what these insights mean for your organization? Let's start a conversation!