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Developments in the balance of travel services: March 2020

22/05/2020 - Press Releases

Balance of travel services

Based on provisional data, the balance of travel services in March 2020 showed an estimated[1] surplus of €32 million, compared with a surplus of €68 million in March 2019. More specifically, travel receipts in March 2020 fell by 71.0% to €92 million, from €318 million in March 2019, while travel payments also decreased by 75.7% (March 2020: €61 million, March 2019: €250 million). The fall in travel receipts resulted from a 46.8% decline in inbound traveller flows and a 45.7% decrease in average expenditure per trip. Net receipts from travel services offset 1.8% of the goods deficit and accounted for 8.9% of total net receipts from services.

In January-March 2020, the balance of travel services showed a surplus of €185 million, up from a surplus of €165 million in the same period of 2019. Travel receipts fell by €127 million or 17.1% to €619 million, while travel payments also decreased, by €148 million or 25.5% to €434 million. The drop in travel receipts stemmed from an 11.4% fall in average expenditure per trip and a 5.6% decrease in inbound traveller flows. Net receipts from travel services offset 3.3% of the goods deficit and accounted for 16.4% of total net receipts from services.

 

Travel receipts

In March 2020, as mentioned previously, travel receipts declined by 71.0% year-on-year. In more detail, receipts from residents of EU27 countries fell by 67.2% to €43 million, while receipts from outside the EU27 decreased by 74.0% (March 2020: €46 million, March 2019: €176 million). The lower receipts from within the EU27 were due to decreases in receipts from euro area residents by 71.9% to €30 million (March 2019: €106 million) and in receipts from residents of non-euro area EU27 countries by 48.2% to €14 million. Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany fell by 82.0% to €6 million and receipts from France decreased by 51.1% to €5 million. Turning to non-EU27 countries, receipts from the United Kingdom fell by 82.5% to €5 million, while receipts from the United States decreased by 79.3% to €9 million. Receipts from Russia also decreased, by 62.4% to €2 million.

In January-March 2020, travel receipts totalled €619 million, down by 17.1% relative to the same period of 2019. This development was driven by a 26.9% decline in receipts from residents of EU27 countries, which came to €241 million, and by a 7.8% drop in receipts from residents of non-EU27 countries to €373 million. In particular, receipts from euro area residents decreased by 21.4% to €198 million, and receipts from residents of non-euro area EU27 countries fell by 44.6% to €44 million. Specifically, receipts from Germany dropped by 39.4% to €49 million and receipts from France fell by 47.2% to €14 million. Turning to non-EU27 countries, receipts from the United Kingdom fell by 27.4% to €52 million, while receipts from the United States decreased by 37.7% to €46 million. Receipts from Russia also decreased, by 62.1% to €6 million.

 

Inbound traveller flows[2]

The number of inbound visitors in March 2020 fell by 46.8% year-on-year to 411 thousand. Specifically, visitor flows through airports declined by 57.9%, while visitor flows through road border-crossing points declined by 27.5%. This overall decrease was due to lower visitor flows from both within the EU27 (down 32.5%) and outside the EU27 (down 59.2%). In greater detail, the number of visitors from within the euro area fell by 58.9% to 85 thousand, whereas visitors from non-euro area EU27 countries increased by 3.8% (March 2020: 157 thousand, March 2019: 151 thousand). Specifically, the number of visitors from Germany decreased by 71.3% to 20 thousand, while visitors from France fell by 51.2% to 14 thousand. Turning to non-EU27 countries, the number of visitors from the United Kingdom fell by 69.4% to 16 thousand, while visitors from the United States dropped by 59.3% to 25 thousand and visitors from Russia decreased by 64.5% to 4 thousand.

In January-March 2020, the number of inbound visitors dropped by 5.6% to 1,828 thousand (January-March 2019: 1,936 thousand). Specifically, visitor flows through airports declined by 8.2%, whereas visitor flows through road border-crossing points increased by 1.2%. In the period under review, the number of visitors from within the EU27 fell by 3.0% year-on-year to 901 thousand and visitors from outside the EU27 decreased by 7.9% to 927 thousand. Visitors from within the euro area decreased by 6.9%, whereas visitors from non-euro area EU27 countries rose by 1.8%. Specifically, the number of visitors from Germany fell by 25.1% to 133 thousand and visitors from France dropped by 38.5% to 34 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU27 countries, the number of visitors from the United Kingdom fell by 18.6% to 117 thousand, while visitors from the United States dropped by 17.6% to 86 thousand and visitors from Russia decreased by 27.5% to 22 thousand.

 

Note: The next Press Release on “Developments in the balance of travel services” for April 2020 will be published on 22 June 2020.

 

Methodological Note

March 2020 was characterised by extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances. Special travel conditions and behaviours induced by the global impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the associated movement restrictions caused the Border Survey to be suspended on 15 March 2020 until further notice.

In order to ensure data comparability over time, the Bank of Greece has adopted the following approach:

1.         For each border-crossing point, inbound and outbound flows were broken down, percentagewise, into periods 1-15 March and 16-31 March.

2.         Data collected for the period 1-15 March were checked, processed and analysed using the standardised methodology.

3.         For the period 16-31 March, extrapolation factors were estimated for main traveller flows per type of border-crossing point, using detailed data on official flows at border-crossing points and historical data on traveller flow distribution by month and border-crossing point.

A similar methodological approach is expected to remain in place until international travel restrictions are fully lifted.



[1] See the Methodological Note at the end of this Press Release.

[2] Inbound traveller flows exclude cruise passengers (other than those recorded in the Border Survey).

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