Buffalo and Syracuse received the largest economic impact from solar eclipse tourism, according to SpendTrend data from Fiserv, and the numbers could balloon higher when additional data is collected, one tourism official said Friday.

Buffalo saw a 32.1% year-over-year increase in spending at hotels and restaurants in the four days leading up to and including Monday’s eclipse. That increase was the highest among any metro area nationwide in, or next to, the zone of totality.

Syracuse closely followed Buffalo at 28.4%, while Albany saw a 20.5% increase. Only three other cities — Austin (27%), Cleveland (26.5%) and Dallas (26.2%) — recorded growth of over 20%.

But Visit Syracuse CEO Danny Liedka believes the real impact is even higher than what the report revealed.

“The numbers that were reported were off the charts. I just think they’re conservative,” Liedka said. “When I look at the hotel market, that’s the first time in the history of this area that our entire market was sold out on a Sunday night. So I think what was mentioned is great, but I think it’s going to be phenomenal once we have a few more weeks to analyze the credit card data and the cell phone usage data, the location data.”

Fiserv’s data is sourced from card-based spending at merchant locations nationwide.

Liedka says Syracuse had a hotel occupancy rate between 16-20% on April 6-9 last year, but were completely booked during that stretch this year. 

“I’m not great at math, but that’s a lot more than 40%,” he said.

“I think conservatively right now the economic impact is probably — today I’d tell you it’s $15 million — but I imagine when we get more data it’s gonna be far higher than that.”

Liedka attributed the economic impact upstate to a nice weather forecast in advance of the eclipse, and strong planning from the I Love New York tourism team. He said Visit Syracuse had been planning for the event for 2.5 years.

Nearly one million people visited New York State Parks from April 6-9, an increase of 45% compared to last year, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul, adding that state parks welcomed more than 326,500 visitors on April 8 alone.

More than 5.5 million toll transactions were made on the state Thruway from April 5-9, with more than 1.2 million toll transactions made Tuesday, April 9. a 21% increase over the previous year, according to the Thruway. 

“From majestic Niagara Falls to the mighty Adirondacks, New York was one of the best places on earth to witness this once-in-a-generation celestial event,” Hochul said. “We planned for more than a year to welcome a record number of visitors during the total solar eclipse, and those preparations helped this event go off safely and successfully.”

Now, the area has the opportunity to bring those tourists back to the upstate region.

“It was a free marketing pitch for us. We had people that had never been here before,” Liedka said. “Now, our job’s gonna be to go back to those folks that came here for the first time and market to them to get them back again.”