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State leaders say total solar eclipse gave big boost to S.C. economy

Georgetown during the eclipse (WPDE)

Around 1.6 million people traveled to or within South Carolina to view the eclipse last month, according to a new report by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.

The cash spent at stores, restaurants, and hotels, brought $269 million to S.C. businesses. The report says the impact makes the eclipse the single largest tourist event in South Carolina history.

"[We made] about two times more than what we normally would make on a day so it was a pretty good day," Aunny's Country Kitchen owner Andrea Johnson said.

Johnson pointed to her front door, and described a line forming from her store in Georgetown to part-way down Front Street.

She said other businesses ran out of food, which helped.

The boost to towns like Georgetown helps offset days where stores are forced to shut from bad weather, especially flooding.

Johnson lost one day to Tropical Storm Irma, and nearly a week to Hurricane Matthew.

"It has its good days but, I mean, it's just an act of God, and I mean you have to go with the flow," Johnson said.

Irma is projected to cost the area tens of millions of dollars, while Matthew caused single stores to throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.

"It's disappointing to lose sales, but on the other hand considering, we had very few losses and we got back in quickly and got back to business," Waterfront Books' owner Sandra Quinn said.

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