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Developments in the balance of travel services: January - March 2019

15/07/2019 - Press Releases

Balance of travel services

Based on final data, the balance of travel services in January-March 2019 posted a surplus of €165 million, up 29.5% from a surplus of €127 million in January-March 2018. This development was due to the stronger increase in travel receipts (up €193 million or 34.8%) than in travel payments (up €155 million or 36.4%). The rise in travel receipts in January-March 2019 compared with the same period of 2018 was driven by a 7.0% increase in the number of non-resident inbound visitors, as well as by a rise in average expenditure per trip by €78 or 26.0% (January-March 2019: €379, January-March 2018: €301).

Specifically, expenditure per overnight stay rose by 13.9% (January-March 2019: €63, January-March 2018: €55), while the average length of stay increased by 10.5% year-on-year to 6.0 nights (January-March 2018: 5.4 nights). Total overnight stays rose by 18.3% to 11,860 thousand in January-March 2019, from 10,026 thousand in January-March 2018.


Travel receipts


In January-March 2019, travel receipts totalled €747 million, up 34.8% relative to the same period of 2018. This development was driven by a 23.2% increase in receipts from residents of the EU28, which came to €402 million or 53.8% of total travel receipts, and by a 50.6% rise in receipts from residents outside the EU28 to €333 million.

In particular, receipts from euro area residents increased by 15.9% year-on-year to €251 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries also rose, by 37.7% to €150 million.

Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany rose by 4.9% to €82 million and receipts from France rose by 53.1% to €27 million. Receipts from the United Kingdom also increased, by 70.7% to €71 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia rose by 74.5% to €16 million, whereas receipts from the United States increased by 113.5% to €74 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 2019, with a share of 78.4% in total expenditure, up from 74.7% in the same period of 2018, while the corresponding receipts increased by 41.4%. Within this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total expenditure (January-March 2019: 50.3%, January-March 2018: 44.0%), with the corresponding receipts increasing by 54.3% to €376 million. Trips for the purpose of visiting family, with a share of 15.4% in total expenditure, showed a rise of 18.8% in corresponding receipts. Receipts from trips for health purposes rose by 45.0% to €13 million. Finally, receipts from business trips increased by 15.3%, but their share in total receipts declined (January-March 2019: 21.6%, January-March 2018: 25.3%).


Inbound traveller flows


As already mentioned, the number of inbound visitors in January-March 2019 rose by 7.0% to 1,969 thousand, from 1,840 thousand in January-March 2018. Specifically, visitor flows through airports increased by 19.5%, whereas visitor flows through road border-crossing points declined by 5.3%. Visitors from within the EU28 accounted for 54.5% of the total number of visitors, while visitors from outside the EU28 accounted for 43.8%.[1] In January-March 2019, visitors from the EU28 increased by 0.2% relative to the same period of 2018. This development is attributed to an increase in the number of visitors from the non-euro area EU28 countries by 2.0% to 557 thousand, as visitors from within the euro area fell by 1.7% to 515 thousand. The number of visitors from non-EU28 countries rose by 19.1% to 863 thousand.

In particular, visitors from Germany decreased by 9.6% to 177 thousand, while visitors from France increased by 42.8% to 55 thousand. Visitors from the United Kingdom also increased, by 41.8% to 143 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of visitors from Russia rose by 89.9% to 30 thousand, while the number of visitors from the United States also increased, by 47.4% to 104 thousand.


Overnight stays[2]


In January-March 2019, overnight stays in Greece totalled 11,860 thousand, up by 18.3% from 10,026 thousand in January-March 2018. This is attributed to increases by 5.1% in nights spent by residents of the EU28 and by 48.7% by residents of non-EU28 countries. The rise in stays by residents of the EU28 reflected an increase of 29.7% in nights spent by residents of non-euro area EU28 countries, as nights spent by residents of the euro area fell by 5.0%. The number of overnight stays declined by 27.7% for German residents, whereas it rose by 21.6% for French residents and by 33.7% for UK residents. Turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of overnight stays by Russian residents increased by 133.8%, while overnight stays by US residents rose by 54.9%.




Since 2012, the Bank of Greece conducts a Cruise Survey in order to enrich the data collected through its Border Survey.[3] Following a standardised methodology, detailed cruise data for the period January-March 2019 were collected at 16 Greek ports, covering 85.3% of all cruise ship arrivals.

The period under review saw 68 cruise ship arrivals (January-March 2018: 41) and 91.8 thousand cruise passenger visits (January-March 2018: 67.2 thousand). According to the Cruise Survey, 82.2% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 2.4 stopovers at Greek ports of call (up from 1.5 stopovers in January-March 2018).

Total receipts from cruise passengers in January-March 2019 rose by 64.9% year-on-year to €12.4 million. Of this amount, €0.8 million was already captured in the Border Survey data, as it represents receipts from visitors leaving the country through Greek last ports, while the remaining €11.6 million concern additional receipts data recorded by the Cruise Survey.

Chart 7 shows a breakdown of cruise receipts by port. The port of Piraeus ranks first with a share of 52.0% in total cruise receipts, followed by the port of Heraklion with 23.3% and the port of Corfu with 6.0%. The seven most important cruise ship ports account for 93.1% of total cruise receipts and 84.5% of total cruise passenger visits.

In the period under review, total overnight stays ashore increased year-on-year by 28.1% to 130 thousand, with a positive impact on cruise receipts. The total number of cruise passengers fell by 15.8% to an estimated 38 thousand.


Balance of travel services by region[4]


As shown by the Border Survey, travel receipts (excluding cruises) in the period January-March 2019 amounted to €735 million. Four regions accounted for the bulk (80.8%) of total receipts (Table 8), namely: Attica (€393 million), Central Macedonia (€127 million), the Southern Aegean (€41 million) and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (€33 million). The remaining regions (Crete, Western Greece, the Peloponnese, Central Greece, Epirus, Thessaly, the Ionian Islands, Western Macedonia and the Northern Aegean) together accounted for €141 million.

Visits to Greece (all 13 regions combined) in January-March 2019 totalled 2,179 thousand. The number of visits exceeds the number of inbound visitors, as travellers may visit more than one region in the course of one trip.

The four most popular regional destinations, accounting for 80.7% of total visits, were: Attica (846 thousand visits), Central Macedonia (536 thousand), Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (297 thousand) and the Southern Aegean (80 thousand). The remaining regions (Epirus, Central Greece, Western Greece, the Peloponnese, Crete, Thessaly, Western Macedonia, the Ionian Islands and the Northern Aegean) together accounted for 420 thousand visits.

The number of overnight stays in Greece in the period under review totalled 11,772 thousand. According to the breakdown into the 13 regions, five regions accounted for 81.0% of total overnight stays, namely: Attica (5,642 thousand nights), Central Macedonia (2,167 thousand), Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (630 thousand), Crete (603 thousand) and the Southern Aegean (488 thousand). The remaining regions (the Peloponnese, Western Greece, the Ionian Islands, Central Greece, Epirus, Thessaly, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 2,242 thousand overnight stays.

Related link: Developments in the balance of travel services: January - March 2019 - Appendix

[1] The remaining 1.7% corresponds to data on cruise passenger flows other than those collected through the Border Survey (“non-BS cruise data”).

[2] It should be noted that each same-day visit, irrespective of duration, is counted as 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 Border Survey statistics.

(b) The 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 stopping over at Greek ports of call.

[4]  The regional figures do not include cruise data collected from sources other than the Border Survey. Therefore, they differ from aggregate data for travel services reported in the previous sections.

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