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Developments in the balance of travel services: January-June 2016

12/10/2016 - Press Releases

Balance of travel services

Based on the final data, the surplus of the balance of travel services was €3,363 million in January-June 2016, down 7.6% from a surplus of €3,642 million in January-June 2015. This is attributed to a larger decrease (in absolute terms) in travel receipts (down €330 million or 7.9%) than in travel payments (down €52 million or 9.8%). The decrease in travel receipts in January-June 2016 over the same period of 2015 was mainly driven by a fall in average expenditure per trip of €47 or 9.4% (January-June 2016: €451, January-June 2015: €499), as non-resident arrivals rose by 1.7%.

Specifically, expenditure per overnight stay dropped by 8.3% (January-June 2016: €68, January-June 2015: €74), while the average length of stay remained virtually unchanged year-on-year, at 6.7 nights (January-June 2015: 6.8 nights). Overnight stays in January-June 2016 increased marginally by 0.4% to 56,868 thousand, from 56,639 thousand in January-June 2015.

Travel receipts

Travel receipts in January-June 2016 totalled €3,841 million, falling by 7.9% relative to the same period of 2015. This development was driven mainly by a 13.8% decrease in receipts from outside the EU28, which came to €1,191 million or 31.0% of total travel receipts, as well as by a drop in receipts from residents of the EU28 (down 6.3% to €2,487 million).

In particular, receipts from euro area residents fell by 9.5% to €1,483 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries dropped by 1.3% to €1,004 million.
Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany fell by 11.7% to €597 million, those from France by 26.1% to €236 million and those from the United Kingdom by 5.0% to €602 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia fell by 12.8% to €110 million and those from the United States by 20.6% to €268 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 2016, with a share of 90.6% in total expenditure, down from 92% in the same period of 2015, as the corresponding receipts decreased by 9.3%. Within this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total expenditure (January-June 2016: 79%, January-June 2015: 78%), with the corresponding receipts falling by 6.7% to €3,035 million. Trips for the purpose of visiting family, with a share of 6.2% in total expenditure, showed a rise of 12.3% in corresponding receipts. Receipts from trips for health purposes decreased by 44.7% to €12 million. Finally, receipts from business trips rose by 7.8%, increasing their share in total receipts (January-June 2016: 9.4%, January-June 2015: 8.0%).

Inbound traveller flows

As already mentioned, the number of inbound visitors in January-June 2016 rose by 1.7% to 8,508 thousand, from 8,368 thousand a year earlier. Specifically, arrivals by air increased by 6.1%, while those by road fell by 14.4%. Visitors from within the EU28 accounted for 58.1% of total arrivals and visitors from outside the EU28 for 29.4% (1). In January-June 2016, arrivals from the EU28 rose by 0.9% year-on-year. This development is attributed to a rise in arrivals from non-euro area EU28 countries (up 3.5% to 2,526 thousand), as arrivals from the euro area fell by 1.8% to 2,416 thousand. Arrivals from non-EU28 countries dropped by 6.1% to 2,504 thousand.

In particular, arrivals from Germany increased by 0.8% to 888 thousand, while those from France fell by 20.6% to 368 thousand. Arrivals from the United Kingdom increased by 13.1% to 928 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU28 countries, arrivals from Russia rose by 7.7% to 162 thousand and those from the United States by 6.4% to 305 thousand.

Overnight stays (2)

In January-June 2016, overnight stays in Greece totalled 56,868 thousand, up by a modest 0.4% from 56,639 thousand in January-June 2015. This reflected an increase of 4.7% in stays by residents of non-EU28 countries, as stays by residents of the EU28 fell by 1.8%. The decrease in stays by residents of the EU28 was due to a decline in stays by residents of non-euro area EU28 countries (down 2.2%), as well as by residents of the euro area (down 1.6%). Stays by German residents dropped by 6.5% and those by French residents by 17.2%. By contrast, stays by UK residents rose by 2.5%. Turning to non-EU28 countries, stays by Russian residents increased by 10.8% and those by US residents rose by 6.6%.


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). In line with standard practice, detailed cruise data were collected for January-June 2016 from 16 Greek ports, covering 82.2% of all cruise ship arrivals.
Ιn the period under review, 1,487 cruise ship arrivals (January-June 2015: 1,490) and 1,783 thousand cruise passenger visits (January-June 2015: 1,626 thousand) were recorded. It should be noted that a breakdown by country of origin is not available at present for the Cruise Survey data. This survey revealed that 91.9% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of two stopovers at Greek ports of call, virtually unchanged from a year earlier.

In January-June 2016, total receipts from cruise passengers rose by 14.2% year-on-year to €177 million. Of this amount, €13 million was already captured in the Border Survey data (4), as it represents receipts from visitors leaving the country through Greek last ports, while the remaining €164 million represent additional receipts data recorded by the Cruise Survey.

Chart 7 shows a breakdown of cruise receipts by port. With a share of 45.5% in total cruise receipts, the port of Piraeus ranks first in terms of cruise receipts, followed by the port of Corfu with 13.6% and the port of Santorini with 8.4%. The seven most important cruise ship ports account for 89.7% of total cruise receipts and 85.0% of total cruise passenger arrivals.

In the period under review, total overnight stays ashore increased by 12.5% to 1,364 thousand, while the total number of cruise visitors rose by 29.5% year-on-year to an estimated 1,092 thousand, with a positive impact on cruise receipts.

(1) The remaining 12.5% corresponds to data on cruise arrivals not collected through the Border Survey (“non-BS cruise data”), for which a breakdown by country of origin is not as yet available.

(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, land transport station or sea port). In this case, the cruise data are integrated into the overall data collected through the Border Survey.
(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 who only use Greek ports as ports of call.

(4) Due to the different methodology applied in 2012, the pilot year of cruise data collection, the allocation of cruise receipts data between the Border Survey and the Cruise Survey is not fully comparable with that of subsequent years.

Related link: Developments in the balance of travel services: January-June 2016 - Appendix



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