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

16/01/2017 - Press Releases

Balance of travel services

Based on final data, the balance of travel services posted a surplus of €10,258 million in January-September 2016, down 9.0% from a surplus of €11,269 million in January-September 2015. This was due to a decrease of €1,007 million or 7.9% in travel receipts and to an increase of €5 million or 0.3% in travel payments. The decrease in travel receipts in January-September 2016 over the same period of 2015 was mainly driven by a fall in average expenditure per trip by €75 or 13.2% (January-September 2016: €491, January-September 2015: €566), as the number of non-resident inbound visitors increased by 6.1%.
Specifically, expenditure per overnight stay dropped by 8.8% (January-September 2016: €69, January-September 2015: €75), while the average length of stay fell by 4.9% year-on-year to 7.2 nights (January-September 2015: 7.5 nights). Overnight stays in January-September 2016 increased by 1.0% to 171,754 thousand, from 170,063 thousand in January-September 2015.

Travel receipts

Travel receipts in January-September 2016 totalled €11,781 million, down 7.9% relative to the same period of 2015. This development was driven mainly by a 15.4% decrease in receipts from outside the EU28, which came to €3,206 million or 27.2% of total travel receipts, as well as by a drop in receipts from residents of the EU28 (down 5.1% to €8,190 million).
In particular, January-September 2016 saw receipts from euro area residents fall by 8.8% year-on-year to €5,012 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries rose by 1.4% to €3,178 million.
Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany fell by 8.5% to €1,837 million and those from France by 25.8% to €826 million. Receipts from the United Kingdom also fell, by 7.4% to €1,730 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia rose by 2.9% to €401 million, while those from the United States fell by 26.1% to €633 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-September 2016, with a share of 94.7% in total expenditure, down from 95.3% in the same period of 2015, as the corresponding receipts decreased by 8.4%. Within this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total expenditure (January-September 2016: 86.3%, January-September 2015: 85.6%), with the corresponding receipts falling by 7.1% to €10,167 million. Trips for the purpose of visiting family, with a share of 5.0% in total expenditure, showed a rise of 30.6% in corresponding receipts. Receipts from trips for health purposes decreased by 13.0% to €27 million. Finally, receipts from business trips rose by 2.0%, increasing their share in total receipts (January-September 2016: 5.3%, January- September 2015: 4.7%).

Inbound traveller flows

As already mentioned, the number of inbound visitors in January-September 2016 rose by 6.1% to 23,984 thousand, from 22,596 thousand a year earlier. Specifically, visitor flows through airports increased by 6.8%, while those through road border-crossing points fell by 5.4%. Visitors from within the EU28 accounted for 61.9% of the total number of visitors and visitors from outside the EU28 for 27.1% (1). In January-September 2016, visitors from the EU28 rose by 13.1% year-on-year. This development is attributed to an increase in visitors from non-euro area EU28 countries (up 20.5% to 7,166 thousand), as well as to a rise in visitors from the euro area (up 6.9% to 7,673 thousand). Visitors from non-EU28 countries dropped by 13.2% to 6,506 thousand.
In particular, visitors from Germany increased by 6.2% to 2,536 thousand, while those from France fell by 11.6% to 1,186 thousand. Visitors from the United Kingdom increased by 15.6% to 2,456 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU28 countries, visitors from Russia rose by 18.9% to 525 thousand and those from the United States fell by 2.8% to 640 thousand.

Overnight stays (2)

In January-September 2016, overnight stays in Greece totalled 171,754 thousand, up by 1.0% from 170,063 thousand in January-September 2015. This reflected an increase of 3.6% in stays by residents of the EU28 countries, as stays by residents of non-EU28 countries fell by 5.7%. The increase in stays by residents of the EU28 was due to a rise in stays by residents of non-euro area EU28 countries (up 8.0%) and by residents of the euro area (up 0.8%). Stays by German residents rose by 1.3% and those by UK residents by 6.5%. By contrast, stays by French residents dropped by 20.1%. Turning to non-EU28 countries, stays by Russian residents increased by 9.2% and those by US residents fell 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-September 2016 from 16 Greek ports, covering 83.5% of all cruise ship arrivals.
The period under review saw 3,400 cruise ship arrivals (January-September 2015: 3,544) and 4,181 thousand cruise passenger visits (January-September 2015: 4,137 thousand). It should be noted that a breakdown by country of origin is not currently available for data from the Cruise Survey. According to this survey, 90.7% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 1.5 stopovers at Greek ports of call (down from 2 stopovers in January-September 2015).
In January-September 2016, total receipts from cruise passengers rose by 2.4% year-on-year to €429.4 million. Of this amount, €45.0 million were already captured in the Border Survey data (4), as they represent receipts from visitors leaving the country through Greek last ports, while 4the remaining €384.5 million concern additional receipts data recorded by the Cruise Survey.
Chart 7 gives a breakdown of cruise receipts by port. The port of Piraeus ranks first with a share of 44.2% in total cruise receipts, followed by the port of Corfu with 14.4% and the port of Santorini with 8.9%. The seven most important cruise ship ports account for 89.7% of total cruise receipts and 85.4% of total cruise passenger arrivals.
In the period under review, total overnight stays ashore increased by a marginal 0.2% to 3,621 thousand, while the total number of cruise visitors rose by 31.4% year-on-year to an estimated 2,737 thousand, with a positive impact on cruise receipts.

(1) The remaining 11.0% 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, road border-crossing point 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-September 2016 - Appendix

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