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Developments in the balance of travel services: January-June 2019

10/10/2019 - Press Releases

Balance of travel services

Based on final data, the balance of travel services in January-June 2019 posted a surplus of €4,077 million, up 10.4% from a surplus of €3,693 million in January-June 2018. This development was due to the stronger increase in travel receipts (up €637 million or 13.3%) than in travel payments (up €253 million or 23.4%). The rise in travel receipts in January-June 2019 compared with the same period of 2018 was driven by an increase in average expenditure per trip by €79 or 17.5% (January-June 2019: €533, January-June 2018: €453), as the number of non-resident inbound visitors fell by 3.6%.

Specifically, expenditure per overnight stay rose by 10.3% (January-June 2019: €76, January-June 2018: €69), while the average length of stay stood at 7.0 nights, up by 6.6% relative to the same period of 2018 unchanged from the same period of 2018. Total overnight stays rose by 2.8% to 71,347 thousand in January-June 2019, from 69,429 thousand in January-June 2018.


Travel receipts

In January-June 2019, travel receipts totalled €5,414 million, up by 13.3% relative to the same period of 2018. This development was driven by a 6.9% increase in receipts from residents of the EU28, which came to €3,550 million or 65.6% of total travel receipts, and by a 29.9% rise in receipts from residents outside the EU28 to €1,694 million.

In particular, receipts from euro area residents increased by 12.5% to €2,323 million, whereas receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries decreased by 2.3% to €1,227 million.

Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany fell by 3.6% to €911 million, whereas receipts from France rose by 27.6% to €346 million. Receipts from the United Kingdom also increased, by 6.4% to €746 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from the United States rose by 27.1% to €397 million and receipts from Russia increased by 8.4% to €112 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-June 2019, with a share of 92.5% in total expenditure, up from 92.0% in the same period of 2018, while the corresponding receipts increased by 14.1%. Within this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total expenditure (January-June 2019: 81.8%, January-June 2018: 80.4%), with the corresponding receipts increasing by 15.2% to €4,427 million. Trips for the purpose of visiting family, with a share of 5.9% in total expenditure, showed a decrease of 1.6% in corresponding receipts. Receipts from trips for health purposes rose by 84.8% to €37 million. Finally, receipts from business trips increased by 4.9%, but their share in total receipts declined (January-June 2019: 7.5%, January-June 2018: 8.0%).

Inbound traveller flows

As already mentioned, the number of inbound visitors in January-June 2019 fell by 3.6% to 10,161 thousand, from 10,536 thousand in January-June 2018. Specifically, visitor flows through airports increased by 4.2%, whereas visitor flows through road border-crossing points declined by 12.7%. Visitors from within the EU28 accounted for 62.8% of the total number of visitors, while visitors from outside the EU28 accounted for 29.8%.[1] In January-June 2019, visitors from the EU28 declined by 5.2% relative to the same period of 2018. This development is attributed to a decrease in the number of visitors from the non-euro area EU28 countries by 11.7% to 2,846 thousand, as visitors from within the euro area rose by 0.7% to 3,530 thousand. The number of visitors from non-EU28 countries increased by 11.0% to 3,031 thousand.

In particular, visitors from Germany decreased by 7.1% to 1,352 thousand, while visitors from France increased by 15.2% to 528 thousand. Visitors from the United Kingdom also rose by 4.0% to 1,101 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of visitors from the United States rose by 21.4% to 422 thousand, while the number of visitors from Russia also increased, by 0.5% to 153 thousand.

Overnight stays[2]

In January-June 2019, overnight stays in Greece totalled 71,347 thousand, up by 2.8% from 69,429 thousand in January-June 2018. This reflected an increase of 26.7% in nights spent by residents of non-EU28 countries, as nights spent by residents of the EU28 declined by 5.0%. The drop in overnight stays by residents of the EU28 is attributed to decreases by 3.1% in nights spent by residents of the euro area and by 8.1% in nights spent by residents of non-euro area EU28 countries. The number of overnight stays fell by 12.4% for German residents, whereas it rose by 11.8% for French residents and marginally by 0.2% for UK residents. Turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of overnight stays by US residents increased by 9.4%, while overnight stays by Russian residents rose by 7.0%.


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-June 2019 were collected at 16 Greek ports, covering 84.6% of all cruise ship arrivals in Greece.

The period under review saw 1,278 cruise ship arrivals (January-June 2018: 1,118) and 1,734 thousand cruise passenger visits (January-June 2018: 1,637 thousand). According to the Cruise Survey, 88.5% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 2.2 stopovers at Greek ports of call (up from 1.5 stopovers in January-June 2018).

Total receipts from cruise passengers in January-June 2019 rose by 10.1% year-on-year to €183 million. Of this amount, €14 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 €169 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 45.4% in total cruise receipts, followed by the port of Corfu with 12.2% and the port of Heraklion with 9.3%. The seven most important cruise ship ports account for 89.4% of total cruise receipts and 81.4% of total cruise passenger visits.

In the period under review, total overnight stays ashore increased year-on-year by 3.8% to 1,865 thousand, with a positive impact on cruise receipts. The total number of cruise passengers fell by 28.2% to an estimated 797 thousand.

Balance of travel services by region[4]

As shown by the Border Survey, travel receipts (excluding cruises) in the period January-June 2019 amounted to €5,244 million. Five regions accounted for the bulk (87.8%) of total receipts (Table 8), namely: the Southern Aegean (€1,347 million), Attica (€1,089 million), Crete (€1,078 million), Central Macedonia (€641 million) and the Ionian Islands (€452 million). The remaining regions (the Peloponnese, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Western Greece, Epirus, Thessaly, Central Greece, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for €638 million.

Visits to Greece (all 13 regions combined) in January-June 2019 totalled 10,814 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 80.1% of total visits, were: Attica (2,417 thousand visits), the Southern Aegean (1,877 thousand), Central Macedonia (1,754 thousand), Crete (1,604 thousand) and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (1,012 thousand). The remaining regions (the Ionian Islands, Epirus, the Peloponnese, Western Greece, Central Greece, Thessaly, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 2,150 thousand visits.

The number of overnight stays in Greece totalled 69,918 thousand in the period under review. According to the breakdown into the 13 regions, five regions accounted for 84.5% of total overnight stays, namely: the Southern Aegean (14,789 thousand nights), Attica (14,209 thousand), Crete (13,509 thousand), Central Macedonia (10,124 thousand) and the Ionian Islands (6,469 thousand). The remaining regions (Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, the Peloponnese, Western Greece, Epirus, Thessaly, Central Greece, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 10,819 thousand overnight stays.

[1] The remaining 7.4% 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 counted as 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.

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