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10/04/2019 - Developments in the balance of travel services: 2018

Balance of travel services

Based on final data, the balance of travel services in 2018 posted a surplus of €13,895 million, up 9.2% from a surplus of €12,725 million in 2017. This development was due to the stronger increase in travel receipts (up €1,456 million or 10.0%) than in travel payments (up €286 million or 15.0%). The rise in travel receipts in 2018 over 2017 was driven mainly by a 9.7% increase in the number of non-resident inbound visitors, as average expenditure per trip rose only marginally by €1 or 0.3% (2018: €486, 2017: €485).

Specifically, expenditure per overnight stay increased by a modest 1.7% (2018: €70, 2017: €69), while the average length of stay fell slightly by 1.5% year-on-year to 7.0 nights (2017: 7.1 nights) The number of overnight stays increased by 8.1% to 230,727 thousand in 2018, from 213,516 thousand in 2017.

Travel receipts

In 2018, travel receipts totalled €16,086 million, up 10.0% compared with 2017. This development was driven by an 11.5% increase in receipts from residents of the EU28, which came to €11,009 million or 68.5% of total travel receipts, and by a 7.3% rise in receipts from residents outside the EU28 to €4,645 million.

In particular, receipts from euro area residents increased by 12.8% year-on-year to €7,102 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries also rose, by 9.2% to €3,907 million.

Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany rose by 16.0% to €2,962 million, while receipts from France fell by 4.0% to €954 million. Receipts from the United Kingdom also decreased by 6.2% to €1,937 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia fell by 18.5% to €341 million, whereas receipts from the United States increased by 27.8% to €1,040 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 2018, with a share of 94.6% in total expenditure, up from 94.3% in 2017, while the corresponding receipts increased by 10.3%. Within this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total expenditure (2018: 85.3%, 2017: 85.8%), with the corresponding receipts increasing by 9.3% to €13,728 million. Trips for the purpose of visiting family, with a share of 6.2% in total expenditure, showed a rise of 37.8% in corresponding receipts. Receipts from trips for health purposes decreased by 11.3% to €49 million. Finally, receipts from business trips increased by 4.0%, but their share in total receipts declined (2018: 5.4%, 2017: 5.7%).

Inbound traveller flows

As already mentioned, the number of inbound visitors in 2018 increased by 9.7% to 33,072 thousand, from 30,161 thousand in 2017. Specifically, visitor flows through airports increased by 13.6%, while visitor flows through road border-crossing points increased by 6.4%. Visitors from within the EU28 accounted for 64.7% of the total number of visitors, while visitors from outside the EU28 accounted for 26.4%.(1) In 2018, visitors from the EU28 increased by 15.1% compared with 2017. This development is attributed to an increase in the number of visitors from euro area countries (up 15.9% to 11,436 thousand), as well as to a rise in the number of visitors from the non-euro area EU28 countries (up 14.2% to 9,961 thousand). The number of visitors from non-EU28 countries rose by 1.3% to 8,725 thousand.

In particular, visitors from Germany increased by 18.2% to 4,381 thousand, while visitors from France also increased, by 7.3% to 1,524 thousand. Visitors from the United Kingdom fell by 2.0% to 2,943 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of visitors from Russia dropped by 11.6% to 520 thousand, whereas the number of visitors from the United States increased by 26.9% to 1,097 thousand.

Overnight stays (2)

In 2018, the number of overnight stays in Greece totalled 230,727 thousand, up by 8.1% from 213,516 thousand in 2017. This was driven by a 10.1% increase in nights spent by residents of the EU28, as well as by a 3.4% rise in nights spent by residents of non-EU28 countries. The rise in overnight stays by residents of the EU28 is attributed to increases by 12.2% in nights spent by residents of the euro area and by 6.8% in nights spent by residents of non-euro area EU28 countries. The number of overnight stays increased by 13.2% for German residents and by 12.1% for French residents, whereas it decreased by 3.1% for UK residents. Turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of overnight stays by Russian residents fell by 12.3%, whereas overnight stays by US residents rose by 22.2%.

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 2018 were collected at 16 Greek ports, covering 89.3% of all cruise ship arrivals in Greece.

The period under review saw 3,214 cruise ship arrivals (2017: 3,271) and 4,734 thousand cruise passenger visits (2017: 4,600 thousand). According to the Cruise survey, 90.0% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 1.5 stopovers at Greek ports of call, unchanged from 2017.

Total receipts from cruise passengers in 2018 rose by 2.0% year-on-year to €486 million. Of this amount, €53 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 €433 million concern additional receipts data recorded by the complementary Cruise Survey.

Chart 7 shows a breakdown of cruise receipts by port. The port of Piraeus ranks first with a share of 43.7% in total cruise receipts, followed by the port of Corfu with 15.7% and the port of Santorini with 9.2%. The seven most important cruise ship ports account for 92.4% of total cruise receipts and 87.1% of total cruise passenger visits.

In the period under review, total overnight stays ashore increased year-on-year by 4.2% to 4,804 thousand, and the total number of cruise visitors rose by a marginal 0.1% to an estimated 3,059 thousand, both of which had a positive impact on cruise receipts.

Balance of travel services by region (4)

As shown by the Border Survey, travel receipts in 2018 amounted to €15,653 million. Five regions accounted for the bulk (88.1%) of total receipts (Table 8), namely: the Southern Aegean (€4,414 million), Crete (€3,134 million), Attica (€2,279 million), Central Macedonia (€2,275 million) and the Ionian Islands (€1,691 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 €1,860 million.

Visits to Greece (all 13 regions combined) in 2018 totalled 34,831 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 five most popular regional destinations, accounting for 81.9% of total visits, were: Central Macedonia (7,830 thousand visits), the Southern Aegean (6,629 thousand), Attica (5,681 thousand), Crete (5,228 thousand) and the Ionian Islands (3,162 thousand). The remaining regions (Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, the Peloponnese, Epirus, Western Greece, Thessaly, Central Greece, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 6,300 thousand visits.

The number of overnight stays in Greece in the period under review totalled 227,012 thousand. According to the breakdown into the 13 regions, five regions accounted for 86.2% of total overnight stays, namely: the Southern Aegean (51,084 thousand nights), Central Macedonia (44,690 thousand), Crete (43,819 thousand), Attica (31,386 thousand) and the Ionian Islands (24,762 thousand). The remaining regions (the Peloponnese, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Thessaly, Epirus, Western Greece, the Northern Aegean, Central Greece and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 31,271 thousand overnight stays.

(1)The remaining 8.9% 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: 2018 - Appendix