The balance of travel services in Greece last year posted a surplus of some 15.4 billion euros, up 11.1 percent from a surplus of 13.8 billion in 2018, the Bank of Greece (BoG) said on Thursday.
According to BoG’s final data for the year 2019, the development was due to the stronger increase in travel receipts, which were up by some 2 billion euros, than in travel payments (up by 553 million euros or 25.2 percent). Travel receipts in 2019 reached 18.17 billion euros, up by 13 percent compared with 2018.
The data shows that the rise in travel receipts in 2019 over 2018 was driven by an increase in average expenditure per trip by 48 euros or 9.9 percent, as well as by a 2.8 percent rise in the number of non-resident inbound arrivals. In 2019 the average expenditure per trip in Greece reached 535 euros against 486 euros in 2018.
More specifically, expenditure per overnight stay in Greece rose by 10.2 percent (77 euros in 2019 over 70 euros in 2018), while the average length of stay stood at 7.0 nights, unchanged from 2018.
Moreover, the number of overnight stays in Greece increased by 2.5 percent to 236,547 thousand in 2019, from 230,727 thousand in 2018.
Five Greek regions accounted for the bulk (87.8 percent) of total receipts, namely: the Southern Aegean, Crete, Attica, Central Macedonia and the Ionian Islands.
Travel receipts by country of origin
According to the Bank of Greece, the nationalities of visitors to Greece that increased their spending during the January-December 2019 period were the French (up by 14.2 percent), the British (up by 32.4 percent), the Americans (up by 14.3 percent) and the Russians (up by 27.2 percent).
The spending of German visitors in Greece last year dropped by 0.1 percent.
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 2019, with a share of 95.1 percent in total expenditure, up from 94.6 percent in 2018, while the corresponding receipts increased by 13.6 percent.
Trips for the purpose of visiting family, with a share of 4.4 percent in total expenditure, showed a decrease of 18.6 percent in corresponding receipts. Receipts from trips for health purposes rose by 20.2 percent and receipts from business trips increased by 3.0 percent, but their share in total receipts declined (2019: 4.9 percent against 2018: 5.4 percent).
Inbound traveller flows
The number of inbound visitors in Greece last year rose by 2.8 percent to some 34 million (including cruise passengers), from 33 million a year earlier. Specifically, visitor flows through airports increased by 1.6 percent and visitor flows through road border-crossing points increased by 9 percent.
In regards to visitors per country of origin, travelers from Germany dropped by 8.1 percent, whereas visitors from France and the UK rose by 1.2 percent and 18.9 percent respectively. The number of visitors from the United States increased by 7.4 percent and travelers from Russia rose by 12.1 percent.
BoG’s detailed cruise data for 2019 was collected at 16 Greek ports, covering 85.8 percent of all cruise ship arrivals in Greece.
The period under review saw 3,914 cruise ship arrivals (2018: 3,214) and 5,566 thousand cruise passenger visits (2018: 4,734 thousand). According to BoG’s cruise survey, 90.6 percent of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 2.0 stopovers at Greek ports of call (up from 1.5 stopovers in 2018).
Total receipts from cruise passengers in 2019 rose by 14.3 percent year-on-year to 556 million euros.
Breaking down the cruise receipts by port in 2019, the port of Piraeus ranks first with a share of 42.9 percent in total cruise receipts, followed by the port of Corfu with 13.5 percent and the port of Santorini with 10.5 percent. The seven most important cruise ship ports account for 89.8 percent of total cruise receipts and 83.1 percent of total cruise passenger visits.