Balance of travel services in 2018 posted a surplus of 13,895 million euros, the Bank of Greece (BoG) said in a report on Wednesday, based on final data, up 9.2% from a surplus of 12,725 million euros in 2017.
The central bank attributed the development to the stronger increase in travel receipts (up 1,456 million euros, or 10.0%) than in travel payments (up 286 million euros, or 15.0%). The rise in travel receipts in 2018 over 2017, it said, was driven mainly by a 9.7% increase in the number of non-resident inbound visitors, as average expenditure per trip rose only marginally by 1 euro, or 0.3% (2018: 486 euros, 2017: 485 euros).
Specifically, expenditure per overnight stay increased by a modest 1.7% (2018: 70 euros, 2017: 69 euros), while the average length of stay fell slightly by 1.5% year-on-year to 7.0 nights (2017: 7.1 nights). The number of overnight stays increased by 8.1% to 230,727 thousand in 2018, from 213,516 thousand in 2017.
In terms of travel receipts, in 2018 they totalled 16,086 million euros, up 10.0% compared with 2017. This development, BoG said, was driven by an 11.5% increase in receipts from residents of the EU28, which came to 11,009 million euros or 68.5% of total travel receipts, and by a 7.3% rise in receipts from residents outside the EU28 to 4,645 million euros.
In particular, receipts from euro area residents increased by 12.8% year-on-year to 7,102 million euros, while receipts from residents of non-euro area EU28 countries also rose, by 9.2% to 3,907 million euros.
Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany rose by 16.0% to 2,962 million euros, while receipts from France fell by 4.0% to 954 million euros. Receipts from the United Kingdom also decreased by 6.2% to 1,937 million euros. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia fell by 18.5% to 341 million euros, whereas receipts from the United States increased by 27.8% to 1,040 million euros.
Inbound visitor flows through airports increased by 13.6%, while inbound visitor flows through road border-crossing points increased by 6.4%. Visitors from within the EU28 accounted for 64.7% of the total number of visitors, an increase of 15.1% compared with 2017, while visitors from outside the EU28 accounted for 26.4%, the central bank said.
In its cruise survey of 16 ports, which cover 89.3% of all cruise ship arrivals in Greece, the central bank said that 2018 saw 3,214 cruise ship arrivals (2017: 3,271) and 4,734 thousand cruise passenger visits (2017: 4,600 thousand). According to the Cruise survey, 90.0% of all cruise passengers were transit visitors, with an average of 1.5 stopovers at Greek ports of call, unchanged from 2017.
Total receipts from cruise passengers in 2018 rose by 2.0% year-on-year to 486 million euros. Of this amount, 53 million euros were already captured in the Border Survey data, as they represent receipts from visitors leaving the country through Greek last ports, while the remaining 433 million euros concern additional receipts data recorded by the complementary Cruise Survey.
The port of Piraeus ranks first with a share of 43.7% in total cruise receipts, followed by the port of Corfu with 15.7% and the port of Santorini with 9.2%.
As shown by the Border Survey, travel receipts in 2018 amounted to 15,653 million euros. Five regions accounted for the bulk (88.1%) of total receipts, namely: the Southern Aegean (4,414 million euros), Crete (3,134 million), Attica (2,279 million), Central Macedonia (2,275 million) and the Ionian Islands (1,691 million).
Visits to Greece (all 13 regions combined) in 2018 totalled 34,831 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 81.9% of total visits, were: Central Macedonia (7,830 thousand visits), the Southern Aegean (6,629 thousand), Attica (5,681 thousand), Crete (5,228 thousand) and the Ionian Islands (3,162 thousand).