Developments in the balance of travel services: 2017
16/04/2018 - Press Releases
Balance of travel services
Based on final data, the balance of travel services in 2017 posted a surplus of €12,725 million, up 13.6% from a surplus of €11,202 million in 2016. This development is attributed primarily to an increase of €1,423 million or 10.8% in travel receipts and, to a lesser extent, to a decrease of €101 million or 5.0% in travel payments. The rise in travel receipts in 2017 over 2016 was driven by a 7.4% increase in the number of non-resident inbound visitors, as well as by a rise in average expenditure per trip by €15 or 3.1% (2017: €485, 2016: €471).
Specifically, in 2017 expenditure per overnight stay increased slightly (by 0.4%) to €69, while the average length of stay remained virtually unchanged year-on-year at 7 nights. Overnight stays increased by 10.4% to 213,516 thousand in 2017, from 193,419 thousand in 2016.
Travel receipts in 2017 totalled €14,630 million, up 10.8% relative to 2016. This development was driven by an 8.5% increase in receipts from residents of the EU28, which came to €9,872 million or 67.4% of total travel receipts, and by an 18.6% rise in receipts from residents outside the EU28 to €4,330 million.
In particular, receipts from euro area residents increased by 12.8% year-on-year to €6,296 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries also rose, by 1.7% to €3,576 million.
Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany rose by 20.0% to €2,553 million, as did receipts from France, by 11.8% to €994 million. Receipts from the United Kingdom also increased, by 6.2% to €2,065 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia fell by 4.1% to €418 million, whereas receipts from the United States increased by 11.8% to €814 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 2017, with a share of 94.3% in total expenditure, up from 93.9% in 2016, as the corresponding receipts increased by 11.2%. Within this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total expenditure (2017: 85.8%, 2016: 85.0%), with the corresponding receipts increasing by 11.9% to €12,558 million. Trips for the purpose of visiting family accounted for 4.9% of total receipts (or €719 million). Receipts from trips for health purposes rose by 55.4% to €55 million. Finally, receipts from business trips increased by 4.3%, but their share in total receipts declined (2017: 5.7%, 2016: 6.1%).
Inbound traveller flows
As already mentioned, the number of inbound visitors in 2017 increased by 7.4% to 30,161 thousand, from 28,071 thousand in 2016. Specifically, visitor flows through airports increased by 9.9%, as did visitor flows through road border-crossing points, by 8.7%. Visitors from within the EU28 accounted for 61.6% of the total number of visitors, while visitors from outside the EU28 accounted for 28.6% (1). In 2017, visitors from the EU28 increased by 7.9% relative to 2016. This development is attributed to an increase in the number of visitors from euro area countries (up 10.4% to 9,863 thousand), as well as to a rise in the number of visitors from the non-euro area EU28 countries (up 5.3% to 8,720 thousand). The number of visitors from non-EU28 countries rose by 13.6% to 8,611 thousand.
In particular, visitors from Germany increased by 18.1% to 3,706 thousand, as did visitors from France, by 8.1% to 1,420 thousand. Visitors from the United Kingdom also increased, by 3.7% to 3,002 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of visitors from Russia dropped by 1.1% to 589 thousand, whereas the number of visitors from the United States rose by 11.1% to 865 thousand.
Overnight stays (2)
In 2017, the number of overnight stays in Greece totalled 213,516 thousand, up by 10.4% from 193,419 thousand in 2016. This was driven by a 22.1% increase in nights spent by residents of non-EU28 countries, as well as by a 6.0% rise in nights spent by residents of the EU28. The rise in overnight stays by residents of the EU28 is attributed to increases by 8.7% in nights spent by residents of the euro area and by 1.9% by residents of non-euro area EU28 countries. The number of overnight stays increased by 14.1% for German residents and by 6.0% for French residents. Overnight stays by UK residents remained relatively unchanged at 26,552 thousand. Turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of overnight stays by Russian residents declined by 2.7%, while those by US residents rose by 16.8%.
Since 2012, the Bank of Greece conducts a cruise-specific survey (“Cruise Survey”) in order to enrich the data collected through its Border Survey (3). Following a standardised methodology, detailed cruise data for 2017 were collected from 16 Greek ports, covering 88.2% of all cruise ship arrivals.
The period under review saw 3,271 cruise ship arrivals (2016: 4,093) and 4,600 thousand cruise passenger visits (2016: 5,053 thousand). According to this survey, 90.5% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 1.5 stopovers at Greek ports of call, unchanged from 2016.
Total receipts from cruise passengers in 2017 fell by 6.4% year-on-year to €476 million. Of this amount, €48.6 million had already been captured in the Border Survey data, as they represent receipts from visitors leaving the country through Greek last ports. The remaining €427.7 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 46.2% in total cruise receipts, followed by the port of Corfu with 14.7% and the port of Mykonos with 8.8%. The seven most important cruise ship ports account for 92.0% of total cruise receipts and 88.3% of total cruise passenger visits.
Total overnight stays ashore in 2017 increased year-on-year by 13.2% to 4,611 thousand, while the total number of cruise visitors fell by 9.9% to an estimated 3,055 thousand, with a negative impact on cruise receipts.
Balance of travel receipts by region (4)
As shown by the Border Survey, travel receipts in 2017 amounted to €14,203 million. Five regions accounted for the bulk (88.9%) of total receipts (Table 8), namely: the Southern Aegean (€3,654 million), Crete (€3,260 million), Attica (€2,083 million), Central Macedonia (€1,852 million) and the Ionian Islands (€1,775 million). The remaining regions (the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Epirus, the Northern Aegean, Western Greece, Central Greece and Western Macedonia) together accounted for €1,579 million.
Visits to Greece (all 13 regions combined) in 2017 totalled 31,021 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 83.9% of total visits, were: Central Macedonia (7,262 thousand visits), the Southern Aegean (5,841 thousand), Attica (5,137 thousand), Crete (4,806 thousand) and the Ionian Islands (2,966 thousand). The remaining regions (Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, the Peloponnese, Epirus, Thessaly, Western Greece, Central Greece, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 5,008 thousand visits.
The number of overnight stays in Greece in the period under review totalled 209,855 thousand. According to the breakdown into the 13 regions, five regions accounted for 86.6% of total overnight stays, namely: the Southern Aegean (46,210 thousand nights), Central Macedonia (40,783 thousand), Crete (40,271 thousand), Attica (29,437 thousand) and the Ionian Islands (24,944 thousand). The remaining regions (Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Northern Aegean, Western Greece, Central Greece and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 28,211 thousand overnight stays.
(1) The remaining 9.8% 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 complementary 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.
Related link: Developments in the balance of travel services: 2017 - Appendix