Developments in the balance of travel services: May 2020
22/07/2020 - Press Releases
Balance of travel services
Based on provisional data, the balance of travel services in May 2020 showed an estimated surplus of €9 million, compared with a surplus of €1,339 million in May 2019, due to the extensive travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, travel receipts in May 2020 fell by 99.2% to €13 million, from €1,566 million in May 2019, while travel payments also decreased by 98.2% (May 2020: €4 million, May 2019: €228 million). The fall in travel receipts resulted from a 97.7% decline in inbound traveller flows and a 62.9% decrease in average expenditure per trip. Net receipts from travel services offset 0.8% of the goods deficit and accounted for 2.8% of total net receipts from services.
In January-May 2020, the balance of travel services showed a surplus of €215 million, down from a surplus of €1,714 million in the same period of 2019. Travel receipts fell by €2,242 million or 78.5% to €614 million, while travel payments also decreased, by €743 million or 65.1% to €399 million. The drop in travel receipts stemmed from a 38.7% fall in average expenditure per trip and a 63.8% decrease in inbound traveller flows. Net receipts from travel services offset 2.7% of the goods deficit and accounted for 11.6% of total net receipts from services.
In May 2020, as mentioned previously, travel receipts declined by 99.2% year-on-year. In more detail, receipts from residents of EU27 countries fell by 99.5% to €4 million, while receipts from outside the EU27 decreased by 98.7% (May 2020: €9 million, May 2019: €683 million). The lower receipts from within the EU27 were due to decreases in receipts from euro area residents by 99.7% to €2 million (May 2019: €721 million) and in receipts from residents of non-euro area EU27 countries by 97.8% to €3 million. Among major countries of origin, the only receipts recorded were from Germany and were very low (down by 99.8% year-on-year).
In January-May 2020, travel receipts totalled €614 million, down by 78.5% relative to the same period of 2019. This development was driven by an 83.1% decline in receipts from residents of EU27 countries, which came to €240 million, and by a 72.1% drop in receipts from residents of non-EU27 countries to €372 million. In particular, receipts from euro area residents decreased by 83.9% to €193 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU27 countries fell by 78.8% to €47 million. Specifically, receipts from Germany dropped by 89.8% to €50 million and receipts from France fell by 91.3% to €15 million. Turning to non-EU27 countries, receipts from the United Kingdom dropped by 86.2% to €51 million and receipts from the United States decreased by 76.4% to €60 million. Receipts from Russia also decreased, by 77.2% to €11 million.
Inbound traveller flows
The number of inbound visitors in May 2020 fell by 97.7% year-on-year to 56 thousand. Specifically, visitor flows through airports were almost zero, whereas visitor flows through road border-crossing points declined by 87.9%. This overall decrease was due to lower visitor flows from both within the EU27 (down 98.2%) and outside the EU27 (down 96.9%). In greater detail, the number of visitors from within the euro area fell by 99.7% to 4 thousand, while visitors from non-euro area EU27 countries fell by 93.5% (May 2020: 22 thousand, May 2019: 340 thousand). Among major countries of origin, there were only some modest visitor flows from Germany, and those were down by 99.7% year-on-year.
In January-May 2020, the number of inbound visitors fell by 63.8% to 1,921 thousand (January-May 2019: 5,305 thousand). Specifically, visitor flows through airports declined by 72.9% and visitor flows through road border-crossing points fell by 40.5%. In the period under review, visitors from within the EU27 dropped by 67.1% year-on-year to 948 thousand, while visitors from outside the EU27 decreased by 59.9% to 973 thousand. The number of visitors from within the euro area fell by 75.4%, while visitors from non-euro area EU27 countries dropped by 48.8%. Specifically, the number of visitors from Germany fell by 82.3% to 135 thousand, while visitors from France decreased by 88.2% to 34 thousand. Turning to non-EU27 countries, the number of visitors from the United Kingdom fell by 79.0% to 117 thousand, while visitors from the United States dropped by 70.0% to 86 thousand and visitors from Russia decreased by 68.1% to 22 thousand.
Note: The next Press Release on “Developments in the balance of travel services” for June 2020 will be published on 21 August 2020.
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 from 15 March to 1 July.
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 March-31 May.
2. Data collected for the period 1-15 March were checked, processed and analysed using the standardised methodology.
3. For the period 16 March-31 May, 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.
 See the Methodological Note at the end of this Press Release.
 Inbound traveller flows exclude cruise passengers (other than those recorded in the Border Survey).