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Developments in the balance of travel services: January - June 2018

11/10/2018 - Press Releases

Balance of travel services

Based on final data, the balance of travel services in January-June 2018 posted a surplus of €3,693 million, up 17.4% from a surplus of €3,147 million in January-June 2017. This development was due to the stronger increase in travel receipts (up €700 million or 17.2%) than in travel payments (up €154 million or 16.5%). The rise in travel receipts in January-June 2018 relative to the same period of 2017 stemmed from a 22.9% increase in the number of non-resident inbound visitors, as average expenditure per trip fell by €22 or 4.7% (January-June 2018: €453, January-June 2017: €476).

Specifically, expenditure per overnight stay rose by 1.0% (January-June 2018: €69, January-June 2017: €68), while the average length of stay fell by 5.6% year-on-year to 6.6 nights (January-June 2017: 7.0 nights). The number of overnight stays increased by 16.0% to 69,429 thousand in January-June 2018, from 59,859 thousand in January-June 2017.

Travel receipts

In January-June 2018, travel receipts totalled €4,777 million, up 17.2% relative to the same period of 2017. This development was driven by a 25.1% increase in receipts from residents of the EU28, which came to €3,321 million or 69.5% of total travel receipts, and by a 2.2% rise in receipts from residents outside the EU28 to €1,305 million.

In particular, receipts from euro area residents increased by 25.9% year-on-year to €2,064 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries also rose, by 23.9% to €1,257 million.

Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany rose by 40.6% to €945 million and receipts from France rose by 9.9% to €271 million. Receipts from the United Kingdom also increased, by 6.0% to €701 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia fell by 19.9% to €103 million, whereas receipts from the United States increased by 14.4% to €313 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 2018, with a share of 92.0% in total expenditure, unchanged from the same period of 2017, while the corresponding receipts increased by 17.1%. Within this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total expenditure (January-June 2018: 80.4%, January-June 2017: 80.7%), with the corresponding receipts increasing by 16.8% to €3,843 million. Trips for the purpose of visiting family, with a share of 6.8% in total expenditure, showed a rise of 36.2% in corresponding receipts. Receipts from trips for health purposes decreased by 15.0% to €20 million. Finally, receipts from business trips increased by 17.6%, but their share in total receipts remained unchanged at 8.0% in January-June 2018.

Inbound traveller flows

As already mentioned, the number of inbound visitors in January-June 2018, increased by 22.9% to 10,536 thousand, from 8,574 thousand in January-June 2017. Specifically, visitor flows through airports increased by 18.3%, while visitor flows through road border-crossing points increased by 22.2%. Visitors from within the EU28 accounted for 63.9% of the total number of visitors, while visitors from outside the EU28 accounted for 25.9% (1). In January-June 2018, visitors from the EU28 increased by 26.2% relative to the same period of 2017. This development is attributed to an increase in the number of visitors from euro area countries (up 22.3% to 3,504 thousand), as well as to a rise in the number of visitors from the non-euro area EU28 countries (up 30.6% to 3,222 thousand). The number of visitors from non-EU28 countries rose by 4.6% to 2,731 thousand.

In particular, visitors from Germany increased by 38.9% to 1,456 thousand, as did visitors from France, by 11.0% to 459 thousand. Visitors from the United Kingdom also increased, by 10.5% to 1,058 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of visitors from Russia fell by 18.7% to 152 thousand, while the number of visitors from the United States rose by 16.5% to 348 thousand.

Overnight stays (2)

In January-June 2018, the number of overnight stays in Greece totalled 69,429 thousand, up by 16.0% from 59,859 thousand in January-June 2017. This reflected an increase of 24.1% in nights spent by residents of the EU28, as nights spent by residents of non-EU28 countries declined by 2.6%. The rise in overnight stays by residents of the EU28 is attributed to increases by 24.9% in nights spent by residents of the euro area and by 22.8% in nights spent by residents of non-euro area EU28 countries. The number of overnight stays increased by 38.7% for German residents, by 20.3% for French residents and by 1.6% for UK residents. Turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of overnight stays by Russian residents declined by 14.6%, while overnight stays by US residents rose by 20.5%.


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 2018 were collected from 16 Greek ports, covering 86.5% of all cruise ship arrivals.

The period under review saw 1,118 cruise ship arrivals (January-June 2017: 1,178) and 1,637 thousand cruise passenger visits (January-June 2017: 1,565 thousand). According to the Cruise Survey, 90.4% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 1.5 stopovers at Greek ports of call (down from 2.3 stopovers in January-June 2017).

Total receipts from cruise passengers in January-June 2018 rose by 2.4% year-on-year to €167 million. Of this amount, €15.4 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 €151.1 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 45.6% in total cruises receipts, followed by the port of Corfu with 15.8% and the port of Santorini with 9.1%. The seven most important cruise ship ports account for 91.1% of total cruise receipts and 85.1% of total cruise passenger visits.

In the period under review, total overnight stays ashore increased year-on-year by 6.2% to 1,796 thousand, while the total number of cruise visitors rose by 66.3% to an estimated 1,110 thousand, with a positive impact on cruise receipts.

Balance of travel services by region (4)

As shown by the Border Survey, travel receipts in the period January-June 2018 amounted to €4,626 million. Five regions accounted for the bulk (88.1%) of total receipts (Table 8), namely: the Southern Aegean (€1,176 million), Crete (€1,005 million), Attica (€876 million), Central Macedonia (€552 million) and the Ionian Islands (€464 million). The remaining regions (the Peloponnese, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly, Western Greece, Central Greece, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for €553 million.

Visits to Greece (all 13 regions combined) in January-June 2018 totalled 10,828 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 86.7% of total visits, were: Attica (2,363 thousand visits), Central Macedonia (2,350 thousand), the Southern Aegean (1,790 thousand), Crete (1,555 thousand), the Ionian Islands (720 thousand) and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (614 thousand). The remaining regions (Epirus, the Peloponnese, Western Greece, Thessaly, Central Greece, Western Macedonia and the Northern Aegean) together accounted for 1,435 thousand visits.

The number of overnight stays in Greece in the period under review totalled 67,981 thousand. According to the breakdown into the 13 regions, five regions accounted for 86.8% of total overnight stays, namely: the Southern Aegean (14,490 thousand visits), Crete (14,062 thousand), Attica (13,100 thousand), Central Macedonia (11,151 thousand) and the Ionian Islands (6,209 thousand). The remaining regions (the Peloponnese, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly, Western Greece, Central Greece, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 8,969 thousand overnight stays.

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


(1) The remaining 10.2% 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.

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