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Developments in the balance of travel services: January-March 2017

06/07/2017 - Press Releases

Balance of travel services

Based on final data, the balance of travel services posted a surplus of €86 million in the period January-March 2017, up 13.0% from a surplus of €76 million in January-March 2016. This development is attributed to the fact that the decline in travel receipts by 9.2% or €50 million was more than offset by a 12.9% decrease in travel payments (down €60 million). The decrease in travel receipts in January-March 2017 over the same period of 2016 was driven by a drop in average expenditure per trip by €16 or 5.2% (January-March 2017: €299, January-March 2016: €315), as well as by a 4.2% drop in the number of non-resident inbound visitors.
Specifically, expenditure per overnight stay declined by 1.9% (January-March 2017: €54, January-March 2016: €55), while the average length of stay fell by 3.4% year-on-year to 5.5 nights (January-March 2016: 5.7 nights). Τhe number of overnight stays decreased by 7.4% to 9,057 thousand in January-March 2017, from 9,786 thousand in the same period of 2016.

Travel receipts

In January-March 2017, travel receipts totalled €489 million, down 9.2% relative to the same period of 2016. This development was driven mainly by a 14.3% decrease in receipts from outside the EU28, which came to €214 million or 43.7% of total travel receipts, and by a drop in receipts from residents of the EU28 (down 3.2% to €267 million).

In particular, receipts from euro area residents increased by 12.0% year-on-year to €180 million, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries fell, by 24.3% to €87 million.
Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany rose by 10.1% to €57 million, while receipts from France dropped by 6.2% to €15 million. Receipts from the United Kingdom also decreased, by 33.8% to €34 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia increased by 10.7% to €14 million, while those from the United States also rose, by 3.3% to €52 million.

Travel receipts by trip purpose

Looking at the breakdown of non-resident expenditure in Greece by trip purpose, trips for personal reasons accounted for the bulk of receipts in January-March 2017, with a share of 72.3% in total expenditure, up from 71.6% in the same period of 2016, even though the corresponding receipts declined by 8.3%. Within this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total expenditure (January-March 2017: 43.1%, January-March 2016: 42.0%), despite a fall in corresponding receipts by 6.8% to €211 million. Trips for the purpose of visiting family, with a share of 15.6% in total expenditure, showed a decline of 8.7% in corresponding receipts. Receipts from trips for health purposes increased by 136.8% to €11 million. Finally, receipts from business trips fell by 11.6%, reducing their share in total receipts (January-March 2017: 27.7%, January-March 2016: 28.4%).

Inbound traveller flows

 As already mentioned, the number of inbound visitors in January-March 2017 decreased by 4.2% to 1,637 thousand, from 1,710 thousand in the same period of 2016. Specifically, visitor flows through airports increased by 11.7%, while visitor flows through road border-crossing points declined by 15.9%. Visitors from within the EU28 accounted for 58.4% of the total number of visitors and visitors from outside the EU28 for 38.9% (1). In January-March 2017, visitors from the EU-28 increased by 3.3% relative to the same period of 2016. This development is attributable to an increase in the number of visitors from euro area countries by 23.2% to 453 thousand, as visitors from the non-euro area EU28 countries decreased by 9.9% to 503 thousand. The number of visitors from non-EU28 countries fell by 8.4% to 637 thousand.

 In particular, visitors from Germany increased by 31.6% to 155 thousand, while visitors from France decreased by 29.3% to 29 thousand. Visitors from the United Kingdom also decreased, by 14.9%, to 91 thousand. Finally, turning to non-EU28 countries, the number of visitors from Russia rose by 23.6% to 25 thousand and the number of visitors from the United States also rose, by 32.4% to 81 thousand.

Overnight stays (2)

 In the period January-March 2017, overnight stays in Greece totalled 9,057 thousand, down by 7.4% from 9,786 thousand in January-March 2016. This was driven by a 14.3% decrease in nights spent by residents of non-EU28 countries, as well as by a 4.1% decline of in nights spent by residents of the EU28. The decrease in overnight stays by residents of the EU28 is attributed to a 23.9% decline in nights spent by residents of non-euro area EU28 countries, as nights spent by residents of the euro area increased by 9.4%. Overnight stays by German residents increased by 32.2%, while those by French and UK residents fell by 49.3% and 20.8%, respectively. Turning to non-EU28 countries, overnight stays by Russian residents decreased by 47.3% and those by US residents by 0.9%.


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). Following a standardised methodology, detailed cruise data for the period January-March 2017 were collected from 16 Greek ports, covering 85.9% of all cruise ship arrivals.

The period under review saw 92 cruise ship arrivals (January-March 2016: 150) and 82 thousand cruise passenger visits (January-March 2016: 189 thousand). According to this survey, 86.0% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 1.7 stopovers at Greek ports of call (down from 2.1 stopovers in January-March 2016).

In January-March 2017, total receipts from cruise passengers fell by 36.0% relative the same period of 2016, to €9 million. Of this amount, €1 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 €8 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 64.1% in total cruise receipts, followed by the port of Heraklion with 8.4% and the port of Katakolon with 7.6%. The seven most important cruise ship ports together account for 95.7% of total cruise receipts and 92.2% of total cruise passenger visits.

In the period under review, total overnight stays ashore increased by 92.7% to 108 thousand, while the total number of cruise visitors fell by 48.1% year-on-year to an estimated 48 thousand, with a negative impact on cruise receipts.

Balance of travel services by region (4)

As shown by the Border Survey, travel receipts in the period January-March 2017 amounted to €481 million. Five regions accounted for the bulk (85.3%) of total receipts (Τable 8), namely: Attica (€253 million), Central Macedonia (€98 million), Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (€22 million), the Southern Aegean (€20 million) and the Peloponnese (€18 million). The remaining regions (Epirus, Central Greece, Crete, Western Greece, Thessaly, the Ionian Islands, the Northern Aegean and Western Macedonia) together accounted for €71 million.

 Visits to Greece (all 13 regions combined) in January-March 2017, totalled 1,792 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 five most popular regional destinations, accounting for 85.5% of total visits, were: Attica (692 thousand visits), Central Macedonia (532 thousand), Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (168 thousand), Epirus (91 thousand) and the Southern Aegean (50 thousand). The remaining regions (Central Greece, Western Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Western Macedonia, Crete, the Ionian Islands and the Northern Aegean) together accounted for 259 thousand visits.

Overnight stays in Greece in the period under review totalled 8,976 thousand. According to the breakdown into the 13 regions, six regions accounted for 87.0% of total overnight stays, namely: Attica (4,230 thousand nights), Central Macedonia (2,268 thousand), Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (397 thousand), the Southern Aegean (313 thousand), the Peloponnese (304 thousand) and Crete (299 thousand). The remaining regions (Central Greece, Epirus, Western Greece, the Northern Aegean, Thessaly, the Ionian Islands and Western Macedonia) together accounted for 1,165 thousand overnight stays.

(1) The remaining 2.7% 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 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 Border Survey statistics.
(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 stopping over at Greek ports of call.

(4) The regional figures do not include cruise data collected from sources other than the Border Survey.

 Related link: Developments in the balance of travel services: January-March 2017 - Table

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