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

14/07/2016 - Press Releases

Balance of travel services

Based on the final data, the surplus of the balance of travel services was €76 million in January-March 2016, down 3.8% from a surplus of €80 million in January-March 2015. This development is attributed to a smaller increase in travel receipts (up €23 million or 4.5%) than in travel payments (up €26 million or 6.0%). The rise in travel receipts in January-March 2016 was mainly driven by an increase of €28 or 9.6% in average expenditure per trip (January-March 2016: €315, January-March 2015: €288), as non-resident arrivals declined by 4.6%.

Specifically, expenditure per stay dropped by 1.1% (January-March 2016: €55, January-March 2015: €56), while the average length of stay rose by 10.8% year-on-year to 5.7 nights (January-March 2015: 5.2 nights). In January-March 2016, overnight stays increased by 5.7% to 9,786 thousand.

Travel receipts

In January-March 2016, travel receipts totalled €539 million, rising by 4.5% year-on-year. This development is attributed primarily to an increase in receipts from outside the EU28 (up 7.1% to €250 million, or 46.3% of total travel receipts) and, to a lesser extent, to an increase in receipts from residents of the EU28 (up 1.0% to €276 million).

In particular, receipts from euro area residents rose by 4.2% to €161 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries fell by 3.0% to €115 million.

Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany rose by 5.4% to €52 million, those from France by 15.0% to €16 million and those from the United Kingdom by 8.6% to €51 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia increased by 52.5% to €13 million, and those from the United States by 61.2% to €50 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-March 2016, with a share of 71.6% in total expenditure, down from 78.5% in the same period of 2015, due to a 4.8% decrease in corresponding receipts. Within this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total expenditure (January-March 2016: 42.0%, January-March 2015: 46.1%), while the corresponding receipts fell by 4.9% to €226 million. Trips for the purpose of visiting family, with a share of 15.5% in total expenditure, showed a rise of 11.8% in corresponding receipts. Receipts from trips for health purposes decreased by 58.9% to €5 million. Finally, receipts from business trips rose by 38.3%, increasing their share in total receipts (January-March 2016: 28.4%, January-March 2015: 21.5%).

Inbound traveller flows

As already mentioned, the number of inbound visitors fell by 4.6% to 1,710 thousand in January-March 2016, from 1,793 thousand a year earlier. Arrivals from the EU28 accounted for 54.1% of this total, and arrivals from outside the EU28 for 40.7% (1). In January-March 2016, arrivals from the EU28 declined by 9.3% year-on-year. This development is attributed to a drop in arrivals from non-euro area EU28 countries (down 15.7% to 558 thousand), as arrivals from the euro area rose by 2.5% to 368 thousand. Arrivals from non-EU28 countries fell, by 1.8% to 695 thousand.

In particular, arrivals from Germany increased by 5.5% to 118 thousand and those from France by 11.8% to 40 thousand. Arrivals from the United Kingdom also increased, by 6.3% to 107 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU28 countries, arrivals from Russia rose by 134.9% to 20 thousand and those from the United States increased by 28.9% to 62 thousand.

Overnight stays (2)

In January-March 2016, overnight stays in Greece totalled 9,786 thousand, up 5.7% from 9,263 thousand in January-March 2015. This reflected an increase of 23.4% in stays by residents of non-EU28 countries, as stays by residents of the EU28 fell by 2.5%. The decrease in stays by residents of the EU28 resulted from a 19.9% decline in stays by residents of non-euro area EU28 countries, as stays by euro area residents rose by 14.5%. Stays by German residents dropped by 7.5%, whereas those by French and UK residents increased by 122.1% and 29.3%, respectively. Turning to non-EU28 countries, stays by Russian residents rose by 115.0% and those by US residents increased by 84.0%.


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-March 2016 from 16 Greek ports, covering 82.7% of all cruise ship arrivals.
Ιn the period under review, 150 cruise ship arrivals (January-March 2015: 119) and 189 thousand cruise passenger visits (January-March 2015: 124 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 96.0% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 2 stopovers at Greek ports of call, virtually unchanged from a year earlier.

In January-March 2016, total receipts from cruise passengers rose by 38.8% year-on-year to €14.4 million. Of this amount, €0.8 million was already captured in the Border Survey data (4), as it represented receipts from visitors leaving the country through Greek last ports, while the remaining €13.6 million represented additional receipts data recorded by the Cruise Survey.

Chart 7 shows a breakdown of cruise receipts by port. With a share of 41.9% in total cruise receipts, the port of Piraeus ranks first in terms of cruise receipts, followed by the port of Katakolon with 11.0% and the port of Rhodes with 10.5%. The seven most important cruise ship ports account for 86.9% of total cruise receipts and 83.4% of total cruise passenger arrivals.

While total overnight stays off the cruise ship fell by 18.8% to 56 thousand, the total number of cruise visitors rose by 39.2% year-on-year to an estimated 92 thousand in the period under review, exerting a positive impact on cruise receipts.

(1) The remaining 5.2% 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-March 2016 - Appendix



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