Towns in the Mid West and Gascoyne are gearing up to feel the full impact of the “eclipse effect” as the world’s eyes turn to our region next week for the natural phenomenon. For the past 12 months, this region has been readying itself for the big event that will put them on the international stage. The eclipse will start at 11.27am on Thursday April 20 and is predicted to last 62 seconds Exmouth was announced as the best place in the world to view the eclipse, reaching 99 per cent darkness for about 60 seconds. Forecasting tens of thousands of visitors to Exmouth alone, the State Government injected $21.1 million into preparations for the event. The expected influx of local, national and international visitors has meant businesses across the state have been gearing up to welcome the masses. Business owners between Geraldton, Kalbarri and Carnarvon have given mixed reviews of the pre-eclipse traffic. Cameron Williams, owner and operator of Midwest Adventure Tours, claimed that over the Easter holidays the wait time for a photo at Kalbarri’ s Nature’s Window was more than 30 minutes. Whereas Kat Deadman, the owner of a coffee van and boat hire business in Kalbarri, said: “These holidays have been very slow to warm up.” Merome Beard, member for North West Central and Carnarvon publican, said Carnarvon had been on the quieter side, but he was expecting it to pick up closer to the date. Exmouth Shire president Darlene Allston said the town was expecting an influx of about 15-20,000 visitors towards the end of this week and beginning of next week, but noted there was still some accommodation to be found. “I don’t know if you can ever be 100 per cent ready, but there has been a lot of preparation, a lot put in place, so I’m fairly confident we will be able to have our visitors experience the Ningaloo at its best,” she said. Owner of Sunset Beach Holiday Park in Geraldton, Mike Triplett, said he had noticed an increase in visitor numbers. “To give you an idea of how busy it’s been, every year I host a fish barbecue on Good Friday. Last year we had 80, this year we had 160,” he said. Mr Triplett credited the combination of Easter and school holidays to his fully booked accommodation that could sleep up to 350 in one weekend. The Ocean Centre Hotel is almost fully booked during the week of the eclipse, despite being an eight-hour drive from the main event. Manager Renee Drage said they were more heavily booked than usual for the days across the total solar eclipse. Jay Cox of Eco-Abrolhos is fully booked for the season, with 32 passengers on each five-day cruise to the Abrolhos. “We’ve seen people from South Australia and Sydney coming through, getting off the boat then going to Exmouth for the eclipse,” said Mr Cox. Despite being a three-hour drive from the epicentre of the eclipse, Carnarvon will still experience 95 per cent darkness. Accommodation in the area was booking out as early as October last year, according to Carnarvon Capricorn Holiday Park staff. The popular destination had nine cabins and 71 of 75 sites booked six months ago. Coral Coast Tourist Park had all 21 cabins booked by the end of March, as well as more than 50 powered camp sites.