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Final Data: Greece Arrivals, Travel Receipts Take a Blow in 2020

Airline passengers boarding on airplane

Aegean Airlines Airbus A320 at Santorini International Airport in Greece on Aug. 19, 2020. Photo: Alexandros Michailidis /

Arrivals in Greece and travel receipts took a massive blow in 2020 hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing measures to curb the spread of the deadly virus, the Bank of Greece reports.

More specifically, according to final data for 2020 released this week, travel receipts plummeted by 76.2 percent or down by 13,860 million euros to 4.3 billion euros with the number of arrivals down by 78.2 percent bringing the total number of tourists to Greece last year to just 7.4 million compared to 34 million in 2019.

The Greek finance ministry revised its outlook this week estimating that tourism-related revenue in 2021 will come to about 40 percent of revenue recorded in 2019.

Central bank analysts attribute the decrease in 2020 travel receipts against 2019 to the 78.2 percent drop in non-resident inbound visitors and to a 12.4 percent drop in average expenditure – by 10 euros – for each overnight stay from 77 euros in 2019 to 67 euros last year.

Key aggregates of travel receipts. Source: Bank of Greece (Click table to enlarge)

A closer look at the final data for 2020 reveals a 9.1 percent increase in average spending per trip to 583 euros in 2020 from 535 euros in 2019.

The average duration of stay also increased by 24.6 percent year-on-year to nine nights against seven in 2019. However, the number of total overnight stays fell by 72.9 percent to 64,173 thousand in 2020 from 236,547 thousand in 2019.

Visitor flows through airports fell by 73.2 percent and through road border-crossing points by 83.8 percent.

Inbound traveller flows by country of origin. Source: Bank of Greece (Click table to enlarge)

Non-resident traveler expenditure on personal trips accounted for 92.7 percent of all receipts in 2020 down from 95.1 percent in 2019.

Travel receipts by country of origin. Source: Bank of Greece (Click table to enlarge)

In this category, leisure accounted for the largest share of total receipts: 80.2 percent in 2020 from 87.3 percent in 2019 with corresponding receipts falling by 78.2 percent from the previous year to 3,462 million euros.

Trips to visit family held a 9.1 percent share in total receipts in 2020 down by 51.2 percent. Receipts generated from health travel declined by 70.6 percent to 17 million euros while business trip receipts dropped by 64.9 percent.


Breakdown of cruise ship arrivals by port. Source: Bank of Greece (Click to enlarge)

Based on data collected at 16 Greek ports, accounting for 75.5 percent of all cruise ship arrivals in Greece, there were 159 cruise ship arrivals in 2020 against 3,914 in 2019 and 68 thousand cruise passenger visits compared to 5,566 thousand in 2019. In total, receipts generated by cruise travelers plummeted by 98.2 percent year-on-year in 2020 to 10 million euros.

Breakdown of cruise receipts by port. Source: Bank of Greece (Click to enlarge)

5 Greek regions account for bulk of 2020 receipts

Overall, according to the BoG, five Greek regions accounted for the bulk (86.7 percent) of total receipts in 2020: the Southern Aegean (1,257 million euros), Crete (861 million euros), Attica (761 million euros), the Ionian Islands (446 million euros), and Central Macedonia (412 million euros).

Key figures of travel receipts, visits and overnight stays by Greek region. Source: Bank of Greece (Click table to enlarge)

The six most visited regions, accounting for 85.9 percent of total visits, were: Attica (1,622 thousand visits), the Southern Aegean (1,573 thousand), Central Macedonia (1,280 thousand), Crete (1,236 thousand), the Ionian Islands (805 thousand), and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (602 thousand).

On the downside, the regions of the Peloponnese, Epirus, Western Greece, Thessaly, Central Greece, Western Macedonia, and the Northern Aegean together accounted for 1,171 thousand visits.

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