Developments in the balance of travel services: April 2020
22/06/2020 - Press Releases
Balance of travel services
Based on provisional data, the balance of travel services in April 2020 showed an estimated surplus of €5 million, compared with a surplus of €211 million in April 2019, due to the travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, travel receipts in April 2020 fell by 98.7% to €7 million, from €544 million in April 2019, while travel payments also decreased by 99.2% (April 2020: €3 million, April 2019: €332 million). The fall in travel receipts resulted from a 96.2% decline in inbound traveller flows and a 62.2% decrease in average expenditure per trip. Net receipts from travel services offset 0.4% of the goods deficit and accounted for 1.2% of total net receipts from services.
In January-April 2020, the balance of travel services showed a surplus of €190 million, down from a surplus of €376 million in the same period of 2019. Travel receipts fell by €664 million or 51.4% to €626 million, while travel payments also decreased, by €478 million or 52.3% to €436 million. The drop in travel receipts stemmed from a 21.5% fall in average expenditure per trip and a 36.1% decrease in inbound traveller flows. Net receipts from travel services offset 2.8% of the goods deficit and accounted for 12.5% of total net receipts from services.
In April 2020, as mentioned previously, travel receipts declined by 98.7% year-on-year. In more detail, receipts from residents of EU27 countries fell by 98.7% to €3 million, while receipts from outside the EU27 decreased by 98.4% (April 2020: €4 million, April 2019: €245 million). The lower receipts from within the EU27 were due to decreases in receipts from euro area residents by 99.5% to €1 million (April 2019: €228 million) and in receipts from residents of non-euro area EU27 countries by 93.0% to €2 million. Among major countries of origin, the only receipts recorded were from Germany and were very low (down 99.4% year-on-year).
In January-April 2020, travel receipts totalled €626 million, down by 51.4% relative to the same period of 2019. This development was driven by a 58.4% decline in receipts from residents of EU27 countries, which came to €245 million, and by a 42.0% drop in receipts from residents of non-EU27 countries to €377 million. In particular, receipts from euro area residents decreased by 58.5% to €199 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU27 countries fell by 58.0% to €46 million. Specifically, receipts from Germany dropped by 66.8% to €50 million and receipts from France fell by 78.6% to €14 million. Turning to non-EU27 countries, receipts from the United Kingdom dropped by 54.0% to €52 million and receipts from the United States decreased by 59.4% to €46 million. Receipts from Russia also decreased, by 69.7% to €6 million.
Inbound traveller flows
The number of inbound visitors in April 2020 fell by 96.2% year-on-year to 38 thousand. Specifically, visitor flows through airports were almost zero, whereas visitor flows through road border-crossing points declined by 88.3%. This overall decrease was due to lower visitor flows from both within the EU27 (down 96.1%) and outside the EU27 (down 96.3%). In greater detail, the number of visitors from within the euro area fell by 99.4% to 2 thousand, while visitors from non-euro area EU27 countries fell by 87.5% (April 2020: 19 thousand, April 2019: 149 thousand). Among major countries of origin, there were only some modest visitor flows from Germany, and those were down 99.2% year-on-year.
In January-April 2020, the number of inbound visitors fell by 36.1% to 1,866 thousand (January-April 2019: 2,918 thousand). Specifically, visitor flows through airports declined by 43.1% and visitor flows through road border-crossing points fell by 22.3%. In the period under review, visitors from within the EU27 dropped by 37.1% year-on-year to 922 thousand, while visitors from outside the EU27 decreased by 35.0% to 944 thousand. The number of visitors from within the euro area fell by 46.7%, while visitors from non-euro area EU27 countries dropped by 21.8%. Specifically, the number of visitors from Germany fell by 53.0% to 134 thousand, while visitors from France decreased by 71.9% to 34 thousand. Turning to non-EU27 countries, the number of visitors from the United Kingdom fell by 43.6% to 117 thousand, while visitors from the United States dropped by 44.5% to 86 thousand and visitors from Russia decreased by 48.1% to 22 thousand.
Note 1: The next Press Release on “Developments in the balance of travel services” for May 2020 will be published on 22 July 2020.
Note 2: From now on, the final data on the balance of travel services for the first, second and third quarters of the year will only be announced through the website (https://www.bankofgreece.gr/en/statistics/external-sector/balance-of-payments/travel-services) and the Open Data Portal of the Bank of Greece, and no Press Releases will be issued for these quarters. Instead, a Press Release will be issued as usual each April with the final data for the entire previous calendar year.
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 March-30 April.
2. Data collected for the period 1-15 March were checked, processed and analysed using the standardised methodology.
3. For the period 16 March-30 April, 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.
This methodological approach is expected to remain in place until international travel restrictions are fully lifted.
 See the Methodological Note at the end of the Press Release.
 Inbound traveller flows exclude cruise passengers (other than those recorded in the Border Survey).