Destination and Policy Update

December 2020



On 9th December, the Tourism Manifesto celebrated its 5th anniversary, with speeches from MEPs and a representative of Portugal, which will assume the Presidency of the EU in January. A relatively small group of associations has grown to over 60. In 2020, its effectiveness as a voice for the sector at European level has grown. To support the next stage of the Manifesto’s development, which will take place within a policy environment in which recovery and sustainability will be closely linked, ETOA will be one of the new Vice-Chairs. We will be joining discussion next week on strategic funding for tourism in Europe: a new ‘Marshall Plan’ for the sector.

In encouraging news of tourism’s increased significance at EU level, there are reports of a new appointment at ‘Director’ level in the European Commission responsible for tourism, as well as a new head of the tourism unit. While these changes sounds technical, they represent a significant shift, and an opportunity for new institutional dialogue and priority-setting.

Focus on Germany: The German NTO recently spoke at our ‘Beyond Brexit’ webinar and ETOA has just formed a partnership with DTV, whose members are regional DMOs in Germany. A country whose visitor economy supports almost four times as many jobs as the automotive sector is the EU’s largest source market, but also a major destination. As there is continued focus on domestic and proximity tourism within Europe, this new partnership will help us support business development inbound and outbound. This complements our participation in Tag der Bustouristik on 11th January 2021.



Updates to our Brexit post transition webpage in the past month include:

  • EU Commission readiness notice on travelling between the EU and the UK
  • EU Commission readiness notice on posting of workers
  • List of Travellers visa scheme for school trips originating in the EU and the UK
  • UK version of TOMS confirmed by UK Government post transition period

We will continue to update the webpage as EU Commission and UK Government official guidance is published and when negotiations between the EU and the UK Government conclude on a free trade agreement. The European Commission has just published proposed targeted contingency measures concerning air transport and ‘regular’ coach services and we will update our webpage shortly. Topics subject to current negotiation include temporary mobility of persons, reciprocal healthcare rights for visitors (similar to EHIC) and transport connectivity, in particular the practice of cabotage and UK coaches transiting the EU to visit non-EU non-Interbus countries. Should the EU and the UK not agree a free trade deal, these topics may also be agreed bilaterally with EU/EEA member states, such as the Switzerland and UK service mobility agreement, but timeframe is uncertain.The EU Commission readiness notice on travelling says in section 2.1:
“The EU has exempted, with effect of the end of the transition period, UK nationals from the requirement to be in possession of a short-stay visa when crossing the external borders, where the intended duration of the stay in the Schengen area is up to 90 days within any 180-day period. A continued exemption from the visa requirement will require that nationals of all EU Member States are equally exempted from UK short-stay visa requirements, following the visa reciprocity principle. In any case, the exemption granted to UK nationals will not apply to non-EU family members of UK nationals, who will be subject or exempted from the visa requirement depending on their nationality in accordance with applicable visa rules. Moreover, as from the end of the transition period, Member States can decide individually whether to require UK nationals planning to carry out a paid activity during their stay to apply for a short-stay visa (subject to the future EU-UK partnership agreement).” 

Our first ‘Beyond Brexit’ webinar was held on 19 November discussing UK as a source market to several EU destinations (Germany, Ireland, Paris, Portugal) as well as regulatory changes post transition period such as tax and immigration and travelling between the EU and the UK. The recording can be viewed via our Brexit page. Additional webinars will be held in the coming months.

Please continue to contact with specific queries.

UK nationals travelling to the EU (except Ireland) and non-EU Schengen* countries from 1st January

*Non-EU Schengen countries – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

From 16th March the EU recommended to member states a temporary restriction on non-essential travel from non-EU countries to the EU+ (included 4 non-EU Schengen associated countries). Due to the Brexit transition period during 2020, the UK has been treated the same as a member of the EU and thus exempt from this recommendation which was subsequently extended in April and May. From 1 July, the EU recommended that restrictions be removed for some third countries and this list is reviewed every 2 weeks (latest list can be seen on the Re-Open EU map). Not all EU member states are adopting this recommendation relaxing restrictions to non-EU countries and final decision on border entry remains a matter of national competence.

From 1 January, UK nationals will no longer be treated in the same way as an EU member and therefore are subject to the EU review every 2 weeks alongside other non-EU countries. The EU recommend exemptions to the restrictions, namely UK nationals resident in the EU, workers, students and passengers in transit. Travel for tourism purposes is not considered. EU member states can still decide to admit UK nationals if not on the EU recommended list, but there is growing pressure among Schengen states to adopt the same criteria in the Schengen area (where there are no internal border controls). Of the EU27 member states, the only EU member state not applying Schengen rules at their border for non-EU nationals is Ireland.

Furthermore, UK nationals will be subject to third country rules (i.e. passport validity, additional checks) when entering the Schengen area and not be entitled to use EU/EEA/CH entry lanes (includes UK nationals resident in the EU). UK passports with EU symbol remain valid travel documents until their expiry. Further information can be found here and on our border process grid for visitors.

Travel between Ireland and the UK will continue the same as prior to Brexit due to the Common Travel Area but for immediate travel from Great Britain to Ireland please check for COVID-19 travel restrictions here.

Tour Guide ID Cards 

Following extensive systems upgrades, the online platform to apply for ETOA Tour Guide ID cards will not open until February. Given the relatively low level of group tours expected to operate in the first quarter of 2021, we anticipate that we will still be able to meet demand provide new cards valid from April 2021. For member operators who wish to prepare bulk orders for guides they work with, do let us know as we will be able to prepare cards ahead of the formal launch of the new e-commerce option.

For all operators who wish to participate in the Tour Guide ID card scheme, via bulk orders or by directing contracted individuals to apply please email to provide us with the following information:

  • The name and email address of the contact person at your company whom we should liaise with about Tour Guide ID cards, whether or not your company makes bulk orders. We cannot issue cards to applicants citing your company as a ‘reference’ without this information, and you may miss out on relevant information as and when regulation affecting guiding changes.
  • Whether you anticipate making bulk orders in 2021. ​​​​​​

Tourist Tax review Next month the tourist tax rates pages will be reviewed ahead of HEM on 11 February 2021. Changes will be highlighted at the top of each country page.

Company information with ETOA 

If you have not done so already, please review your company information via this link. To see whom ETOA currently holds as the ‘main contact’ check your listing via this link (you will need to be logged in to see all the information).

Meanwhile, please continue to send any comments you may have about website content, public and member-only, to:




Given renewed restrictions in Europe, we have not focused too much on operational updates in this edition. Behind the scenes, we are following various development including Paris’s proposed coach plan and Amsterdam’s proposed changes to canal-boat licensing. A crisis can be a good time to ‘hide’ news so, if members have noticed any new regulatory initiatives, particularly at a local level, that will affect the operating environment other than those related to Coronavirus control, please contact us at

Thanks to our member, Visit Wiltshire for passing on the information concerning English Heritage and Salisbury Cathedral. Attractions and DMOs please continue to send us news to circulate in this member only monthly newsletter.


Venice: The proposed implementation date of the tourist tax (contributo di sbarco/accesso) for day visitors has been further delayed from 1 April 2021 to 1 January 2022 due to impact of COVID-19. The current tourist tax for overnight visitors has not been suspended and remains payable. Further information can be found on our Italy tourist tax page.



Bath Clean Air Zone has been confirmed to start on 15 March 2021. Coaches must be Euro VI diesel emission standard to enter the zone or subject to a daily £100 charge.

Windsor Castle will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the foreseeable future (except for the Christmas Period this month).

English Heritage are holding admission prices for the trade at 2020 levels until April 2022. Confirmed admission prices and opening times are available for both the 2021/2022 & 2022/2023 seasons and detailed in the trade admission prices and site opening times guide. The Group Visits Guide will be extended for use through the 2021/2022 season.

Salisbury Cathedral have published their 2021 group rates.

UK Government Travel Taskforce Report 

The UK Government’s Global Travel Taskforce published their report to the UK Prime Minister last month making 14 recommendations to restore international travel. One recommendation is exploring the feasibility of ‘tour bubbles’ for group tours arriving into the UK building on the model used by sports team. A proposal is currently being developed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport who are looking for practical evidence that “tour groups would arrive together and use private transport to visit a number of COVID-19 secure venues, all while staying together as a group and following local regulations.” We would welcome feedback from members on tour planning to the UK, particularly for the first half of 2021. Please contact

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