Destination and Policy Update

August 2020

Operational challenges

The re-opening phase across Europe is causing operational challenges for cross-border and group tourism, largely due to variations in social distancing and other risk mitigation measures. While the TourCare guidelines developed with ETOA and its partners offer a practical framework for operators to create their own in-house practice, variation in production limitations within the supply chain is making planning and pricing near impossible in some cases. As the long-haul market is almost exclusively focused on 2021-22, this is a major impediment to recovery.

Examples of challenges faced by members include:

  • Groups in fully loaded coaches split onto two or three large canal boats
  • Ambiguity around coach load factor on ferries
  • Italian regions potentially may have different load factors for coaches
  • Ambiguity and short notice changes to quarantine and transit rules
  • Attractions are limiting groups, some down to four people
  • Some venues with capacity for 200 pax are used for max. 25 pax due to social distancing
  • In some countries no social distancing is required on public transport if wearing a mask
  • Ambiguity around number in cycling groups permitted

The above are only some of the challenges. ETOA continues to push for regulations and guidance to be aligned within Europe across borders and sectors. We use examples like these in discussions with the European Commission. To support the case, please send examples of other misalignments to us.


We want to ensure the content and functionality of our website suits member interests and needs. To help us prioritise correctly, we would be grateful for your feedback via this very short 2-minute survey. Thanks!


Package Travel Regulation

On 31 July, the European Commission has updated its guidance and FAQs on Passenger Rights and Package Travel. The new July version is online in all 22 languages. It include three new questions on:

  • Vouchers/ Infringement proceedings (question 3)
  • Passenger rights in case of denied boarding by the airline (question 11)
  • Rights in case of refusal of access to transport hubs (question 12)

Financial protection is also necessary for operators, as our Risky Business webinar illustrated. We need a response from both regulators and the insurance market to provide adequate protection mechanisms and affordable cover allowing business continuity and a return of consumer confidence. Residual uncertainty related to Covid-19 will remain for the foreseeable future. Insurance is an essential part of the risk mitigation apparatus which is still adapting to new circumstances. ETOA will continue to focus on this topic in coming months.


For the latest information on border restrictions, services allowed to open and health and safety protocols (e.g. whether mandatory to wear a face covering or mask on transport services) please see Re-Open EU mapIATA map and government webpages on our COVID-19 resources page.

Updates on COVID-19 are communicated in our regular newsletters. Please continue to contact us with any questions you have or information you are seeking to help with decision making on operations and product planning.


Neuschwanstein Castle: Groups are currently limited to maximum 10 people due to COVID-19 restrictions. More information here.


Rome – Colosseum Covid-voucher: In our July update we mentioned that the deadline for requesting Covid-vouchers was 30 September. That date has been amended to 18 August, though some operators are struggling to get bookings before 30 June converted to voucher credits after that date. Read more here.

Tourism Taxes: Our Italy tourist tax page has been reviewed and updated. Changes include temporary suspension of collection from visitors in Pisa, Siena and Turin, new reductions in Verona and revised start date for Venice access contribution in 2021.

ZTL postponements: Bologna and Pisa have suspended collection until 31 October 2020 and 31 December 2020 respectively although registration of vehicle and date of entry may still be required. For information on ZTL, please see our Italy destination page.


Amsterdam – guiding: The city hall is looking for ways to improve the quality of guiding in the city and will hold consultation meetings with the industry at the end of August (online in Dutch). One of the current ideas is to introduce a small test for exemption holders. More information about the consultation on our Amsterdam page.


E-visas: Our understanding is that the online visa service which has been in place for 8-day trips to some Russian regions (e.g. St. Petersburg) for some nationalities (excl. UK, US and others) is expected to be expanded to all of Russia in 2021.


Alhambra – refunds: Alhambra has refunded, or is in the process of refunding, all bookings from March to June when the attraction was closed. They are currently refusing to refund bookings after June, despite most groups not being able to visit. We are in close contact with the Alhambra to try and find a solution. More information about the attraction here.

Insight Hub

We continue to develop our Insight Hub to give you access to up-to-date research and insight to support your business decisions. We are pleased to let you know that we have now added a category on Sustainability, as this is one of our core areas of activity. There are currently four pieces available to members:

  • Euromonitor 2040: Climate Emergency: A white paper describing how consumers might book and experience travel two decades from now
  • Climate Change: Implications for Tourism: A report that describes the scale of likely impact that climate change will have as well as setting out some of the adaptations and mitigation measures that could help deliver a more resilient industry. The report includes a helpful two-page infographic looking at various tourism sub-sectors.
  • Cambridge University Institute for Sustainability Leadership – Working towards a climate neutral Europe: Jobs and skills in a changing world: A discussion relating to how the interplay between megatrends such as demographic and technological change and ongoing policy development to bring about a climate neutral European economy will likely shape the job market, and the skillsets needed by workers across Europe over the next three decades.
  • Cambridge University Institute for Sustainability Leadership – Rewiring the Economy: Ten Tasks, Ten Years: A report that puts forward ten tasks to be carried out within a decade by leaders in the fields of government, finance and business, with the aspiration being to ensure economic development benefits rather than harms healthy ecosystems, climate stability and wellbeing.

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