ECONOMY

Tourism receipts bring account surplus

The achievement of a current account surplus in May and a major increase in revenues from tourism in the same month may signal significant positive developments, as the Finance Ministry expects tourism to support financial activity this year and offset losses from other sectors.

According to the data released on Friday by the Bank of Greece, tourism revenues in May posted a remarkable 38.5 percent increase from the same month last year, exceeding 1 billion euros against 760 million euros in 2012. The increase reflects the number of arrivals of non-resident travelers by 24.4 percent, according to a border survey conducted by the central bank.

This development has led to the creation of a surplus in current accounts amounting to 35.5 million euros in May, against a deficit of over 1.2 billion euros a year earlier.

The good news from this is that the current account balance has swung to a surplus a month earlier than it had done last year, when it was in positive territory from June to September, i.e. the summer tourism season. This serves to vindicate forecasts by the Finance Ministry that the current account balance will be marginally negative or on zero for the whole year.

In the first five months of 2013 the balance was negative by 3.5 billion euros, which is considerably less than last year’s 6.9 billion euros, signifying a drop of 49.2 percent.

The trade deficit shrank by 23.1 percent in the year to May, reaching 7.1 billion euros thanks to the increase in exports by 8.5 percent and the decline in imports by 7.9 percent (attributed to the fall in fuel imports by 13.5 percent). In May alone imports fell by 21.6 percent and exports climbed by 2.3 percent year-on-year.

Tourism receipts amounted to 1.054 billion euros in May, taking total tourism receipts in the first five months of the year to 1.733 billion euros, up 15.5 percent compared with the same period last year.

The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) added to the good news on Friday by announcing that the Turnover Index in Industry increased by 2 percent in May compared with the same month in 2012, while direct investments in the first five months of 2013 grew to 946.2 million euros, from 514.7 million a year earlier.