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  • Writer's pictureIlma Danielienė

Bank of Greece Update on the Balance of Travel Services

Greece's national development strategy since 1980 has put tourism at the forefront. This has resulted in a massive increase of incoming tourists (some 35 mln people in 2019) as well as major investment in tourism infrastructure and accommodation. In 2019, tourism accounted for approximately 25% of GDP, using the WTTC definition.

Athens, Greece: 22 October 2020

Tourism has also been an economic sector with a positive balance of trade for Greece. It counts as a service export, since Greece's exports of tourism services (i.e. services sold to international customers) are in surplus versus its imports of tourism services (i.e. services sold to Greeks travelling abroad). The COVID-19 Pandemic illustrates the dramatic impact a crisis can have on a tourism-focussed economy. As we have reported in previous articles:

The latest figures by the National Bank of Greece illustrate the damage this pandemic has caused to Greece's tourism services balance.

According to the Bank of Greece, in August 2020:

  • The balance of travel services showed a surplus of € 1.32 bln compared with a surplus of € 3.87 bln in August 2019.

  • Travel receipts fell by 66.5% to € 1.37 bln. Receipts from residents of the EU27 countries fell by 58.4% to € 0.98 bln.

  • Receipts from outside the EU27 countries decreased by 76.5% to € 0.39 bln versus € 1.68 bln in August 2019.

  • Travel payments decreased by 76.6%.

The fall in travel receipts was impacted by a 73.3% decline in inbound traveler flows in August 2020. This overall decrease was due to lower visitor flows from:

  • Within the EU27 countries: the decline was 68.4% in arrivals.

  • Outside the EU27 countries: the decline was 81.7% in arrivals.

In January - August 2020, Greece's surplus of travel services declined to € 2.1 bln versus € EUR 11.4 bln in Jan-Aug 2019. Total travel receipts fell by 80% to € 2.7 bln. The decline in receipts is due to a 78% decline in incoming visitor flows as well as a decline of 6% in average spend per trip.

In January – August 2020, the number of inbound visitors reached only 4.8 mln versus 21.8 mln in the same period of 2019. Specifically:

  • Visitor flows through airports declined by 77%.

  • Visitor flows through road border-crossing points fell by 79.9%.

  • Visitors from within the EU27 decreased by 75.7% to 3.14 mln.

  • Visitors from outside the EU27 decreased by 81.3% to 1.67 mln.

Navigator Consulting has been reporting extensively on the risks and impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism sector in Greece. We support clients restructure their operations to prepare for COVID-19 and wider unfolding risks and opportunities in the region.

For further information, please contact:

Philip Ammerman

Managing Director


Developments in the balance of travel services: August 2020

Bank of Greece. 22 October 2020

Greek tourism revenue decreases by 86% in January-July 2020

NavInvest Greece. 22 September 2020

Related articles:

Only 60% of hotels opened in Greece

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DBRS Morningstar outlines COVID-19 economic risks to tourism in Greece and Cyprus

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Fraport Greece completes renovation works at 11 of 14 Greek regional airports

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Greek airport traffic down 75% in H1 2020

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