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17/01/2019 - Developments in the balance of travel services: January-September 2018

Balance of travel services

Based on final data, the balance of travel services in January-September 2018 posted a surplus of €12,507 million, up 8.1% from a surplus of €11,571 million in January-September 2017. This development was due to the stronger increase in travel receipts (up €1,092 million or 8.4%) than in travel payments (up €156 million or 10.8%). The rise in travel receipts in January-September 2018 relative to the same period of 2017 stemmed from a 9.3% increase in the number of non-resident inbound visitors, as average expenditure per trip fell by €4 or 0.8% (January-September 2018: €498, January-September 2017: €503).

Specifically, expenditure per overnight stay rose marginally by 0.5% (January-September 2018: €70, January-September 2017: €69), while the average length of stay edged down by 1.4% year-on-year to 7.2 nights (January-September 2017: 7.3 nights). Τhe number of overnight stays increased by 7.8% to 202,974 thousand in January-September 2018, from 188,272 thousand in January-September 2017.

Travel receipts

In January-September 2018, travel receipts totalled €14,113 million, up 8.4% relative to the same period of 2017. This development was driven by an 11.4% increase in receipts from residents of the EU28, which came to €9,844 million or 69.7% of total travel receipts, and by a 2.4% rise in receipts from residents outside the EU28 to €3,925 million.

In particular, receipts from euro area residents increased by 12.9% year-on-year to €6,300 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries also rose, by 8.9% to €3,544 million.

Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany rose by 20.3% to €2,587 million, while receipts from France fell by 9.7% to €842 million. Receipts from the United Kingdom decreased by 7.2% to €1,744 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia fell by 20.7% to €307 million, whereas receipts from the United States increased by 18.9% to €823 million.

Travel receipts by trip purpose

Looking at the breakdown of non-resident expenditure in Greece by trip purpose, trips for personal reasons represented the bulk of receipts in January-September 2018, with a share of 95.4% in total expenditure, up from 95.1% in the same period of 2017, while the corresponding receipts increased by 8.8%. Within this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total expenditure (January-September 2018: 86.9%, January-September 2017: 87.4%), with the corresponding receipts increasing by 7.8% to €12,266 million. Trips for the purpose of visiting family, with a share of 5.6% in total expenditure, showed a rise of 34.9% in corresponding receipts. Receipts from trips for health purposes decreased by 12.3% to €36 million. Finally, receipts from business trips increased by 1.0%, but their share in total receipts declined (January-September 2018: 4.6%, January-September 2017: 4.9%).

Inbound traveller flows

As already mentioned, the number of inbound visitors in January-September 2018 rose by 9.3% to 28,322 thousand, from 25,914 thousand in January-September 2017. Specifically, visitor flows through airports increased by 13.6%, while visitor flows through road border-crossing points increased by 5.0%. Visitors from within the EU28 accounted for 65.7% of the total number of visitors, while visitors from outside the EU28 accounted for 25.9% (1). In January-September 2018, visitors from the EU28 increased by 16.1% relative to the same period of 2017. This development is attributed to an increase in the number of visitors from euro area countries (up 16.8% to 9,839 thousand), as well as to a rise in the number of visitors from the non-euro area EU28 countries (up 15.4% to 8,792 thousand). The number of visitors from non-EU28 countries fell by 2.2% to 7,326 thousand.

In particular, visitors from Germany increased by 25.1% to 3,647 thousand, while visitors from France also increased, by 2.9% to 1,327 thousand. Visitors from the United Kingdom decreased slightly, by 0.5% to 2,612 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of visitors from Russia fell by 15.5% to 449 thousand, while the number of visitors from the United States rose by 19.0% to 851 thousand.

Overnight stays (2)

In January-September 2018, overnight stays in Greece totalled 202,974 thousand, up by 7.8% from 188,272 thousand in January-September 2017. This reflected an increase of 11.4% in nights spent by residents of the EU28, as nights spent by residents of non-EU28 countries declined by 0.3%. The rise in overnight stays by residents of the EU28 is attributed to increases by 14.1% in nights spent by residents of the euro area and by 7.2% in nights spent by residents of non-euro area EU28 countries. The number of overnight stays increased by 16.7% for German residents and by 7,1% for French residents, whereas it fell by 3.8% for UK residents. Turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of overnight stays by Russian residents declined by 14.1%, while overnight stays by US residents rose by 17.1%.

Cruises

Since 2012, the Bank of Greece conducts a Cruise Survey in order to enrich the data collected through its Border Survey (3). Following a standardised methodology, detailed cruise data for the period January-September 2018 were collected at 16 Greek ports, covering 88.8% of all cruise ship arrivals in Greece.

The period under review saw 2,562 cruise ship arrivals (January-September 2017: 2,685) and 3,781 thousand cruise passenger visits (January-September 2017: 3,761 thousand). According to the Cruise Survey, 90.6% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 1.5 stopovers at Greek ports of call, unchanged from January-September 2017.

Total receipts from cruise passengers in January-September 2018 fell by 2.9% year-on-year to €384 million. Of this amount, €40 million were already captured in the Border Survey data, as they represent receipts from visitors leaving the country through Greek last ports, while the remaining €344 million concern additional receipts data recorded by the Cruise Survey.

Chart 7 shows a breakdown of cruise receipts by port. The port of Piraeus ranks first with a share of 44.3% in total cruise receipts, followed by the port of Corfu with 16.4% and the port of Santorini with 9.7%. The seven most important cruise ship ports account for 92.2% of total cruise receipts and 86.9% of total cruise passenger visits.

In the period under review, total overnight stays ashore decreased year-on-year by 1.2% to 3,740 thousand, while the total number of cruise passengers edged down by 0.4% to an estimated 2,444 thousand, with a negative impact on cruise receipts.


Balance of travel services by region (4)

As shown by the Border Survey, travel receipts in the period January-September 2018 amounted to €13,769 million. Five regions accounted for the bulk (88.2%) of total receipts (Table 8), namely: the Southern Aegean (€3,994 million), Crete (€2,805 million), Central Macedonia (€2,017 million), Attica (€1,725 million) and the Ionian Islands (€1,602 million). The remaining regions (the Peloponnese, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Thessaly, Epirus, Western Greece, Central Greece, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for €1,626 million.

Visits to Greece (all 13 regions combined) in January-September 2018 totalled 29,901 thousand. The number of visits exceeds the number of inbound visitors, as travellers may visit more than one region in the course of one trip.

The six most popular regional destinations, accounting for 87.5% of total visits, were: Central Macedonia (6,824 thousand visits), the Southern Aegean (5,816 thousand), Crete (4,537 thousand), Attica (4,439 thousand), the Ionian Islands (2,953 thousand) and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (1,604 thousand). The remaining regions (the Peloponnese, Epirus, Thessaly, Western Greece, Central Greece, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 3,728 thousand visits.

The number of overnight stays in Greece in the period under review totalled 200,015 thousand. According to the breakdown into the 13 regions, five regions accounted for 86.4% of total overnight stays, namely: the Southern Aegean (45,980 thousand nights), Central Macedonia (40,381 thousand), Crete (39,060 thousand), Attica (24,212 thousand) and the Ionian Islands (23,246 thousand). The remaining regions (the Peloponnese, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Thessaly, Epirus, the Northern Aegean, Western Greece, Central Greece and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 27,136 thousand overnight stays.

(1)The remaining 8.4% corresponds to data on cruise passenger flows other than those collected through the Border Survey (“non-BS cruise data”).

(2) It should be noted that each same-day visit, irrespective of duration, is assigned one overnight stay.

(3)Overall cruise data are thus derived from two sources:
(a) The Border Survey, which records data on cruise travellers leaving the country through a Greek point of exit (airport, road border-crossing point or sea port). In this case, the cruise data are integrated into the overall Border Survey statistics.
(b) The Cruise Survey, launched by the Bank of Greece in 2012. The survey is based on administrative data and seeks to capture the rest of cruise travellers, grouping them into: (i) travellers with a Greek home port; (ii) travellers with a Greek last port; and (iii) transit travellers stopping over at Greek ports of call.

(4)The regional figures do not include cruise data collected from sources other than the Border Survey. Therefore, they differ from aggregate data for travel services reported in the previous sections.

Related link: Developments in the balance of travel services: January-September 2018 - 
Appendix