ETOA Destination & Operational News | March 2022

Welcome to ETOA’s quarterly Destination & Operational Newsletter. This member-only newsletter focuses on operational information about tourism in European destinations. This edition includes updates on:

  • Attractions and ticketing
  • City access
  • Tourism tax
  • COVID-19 Travel requirements
  • Visas and Borders
  • ETOA Tour Guide ID cards
  • Insight Hub updates
  • Webinars​​​​

Some city access changes in particular will have significant impact on tour operations. If you are a European destination (DMO/NTO) and would like to reach global buyers with operational updates and information about local conditions, please contact us.

​​​​​10 March we held our first working group of the year discussing current challenges and opportunities in European group tourism. Despite the war in Ukraine and geopolitical uncertainties, operators are not experiencing a significant drop in demand, except to some bordering countries. Other topics covered were attractions and ticketing, city access, market access for guiding UK-EU/EU-UK, and tourism tax. The next meeting will be held on 7 June and is open for members working with group tourism in Europe.

Attractions and ticketing

Local guide requirements

A wide range of attractions and museums are still limiting group sizes and some are requiring an additional local guide for smaller sized groups than pre-Covid. This is putting pressure on the logistics of operating plus increasing costs.

We are mainly receiving reports about Italian attractions and museums where a second guide is often required if the group is over 25 pax. Examples are the Vatican Museums, Pompei excavations, Doge’s Palace, Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, and Accademia in Florence. We have also received similar reports about attractions in Spain, the UK (Westminster) and Austria (in Schönbrunn Palace a second guide is now required for groups over 30 pax instead of previous 40).


We have resumed our meetings with the Alhambra and had a meeting with them in January. While they are adamant their new booking system (starting in 2020) is working well, we have expressed concern about the complicated booking process for groups, especially looking at the upcoming high season. If you have any feedback, please contact Jorge Traver.

Vatican museum and St. Peter’s Basilica access

Since the start of the pandemic the direct access passage between the museum and the Basilica has been closed, resulting in groups having to exit the museum and walk around to St Peter’s square where they will have to queue again for the Basilica. According to our knowledge there is no information about when the passage will re-open or indeed if it will.

Operators are reporting that, in addition to the 20-30 minutes to the Basilica, clients are currently queuing 20-50 minutes to enter the Basilica. If the passage will not re-open before the high season, longer queuing times are to be expected.

City Access

Amsterdam coach access

Construction work at Westermarkt and Magna Plaza during spring/summer 2022 is to affect access to the coach stops. Further information is published here.

Edinburgh city centre access

Edinburgh City Council are currently consulting with industry on their plans for the next decade affecting vehicle access within the city centre. This includes a low emission zone, reallocation of street space and a ‘pedestrian priority zone’.

The low emission zone (LEZ) covering the city centre is expected to be introduced on 31 May 2022 but enforcement would not start until 1 June 2024. The LEZ would be applicable to all vehicles except motorcycles 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Coaches would need to be Euro VI (6) to enter the LEZ.

For further information please see city centre transformation plan and city mobility plan. We will keep members updated on the plans.​​​​​

Paris coach access: «Zone apaisée Paris Centre»

The measure prohibiting vehicles transiting through Paris city centre has been postponed from 2022 to early 2024. In effect, this measure will make it impossible to drive through the most central Paris districts (1st to 7th), with a few exceptions:

  • Public services (police, ambulances etc.)
  • Public transport
  • People working or living in the designated zone

The public visiting a museum or shop in the area can drive through but will have to justify with a receipt of parking and purchase. More details to follow. In the meantime, you can find more information here (in French).

For more information on parking and coach regulations, please visit this page.

Tourism Tax

From April the rates published on our ETOA tourism tax pages will be reviewed starting with Italy and the Netherlands. Updates for each country will be published at the top of each page.


Venice contributo di sbarco/accesso

The tourism tax applicable to day visitors is currently due to start 1 June 2022. We understand this may be further delayed. Further information will be published on our Italy tourist tax page when known.

COVID-19 Travel Requirements

European countries are continuing to remove travel restrictions and in-destination measures. Further announcements expected at the end of this month will include news from Latvia, Poland and Sweden affecting travel from non-EU countries. The Green Pass in Italy is planned to continue in April but its use will be reduced.

To date, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Romania and the UK have removed restrictions and requirements to show or complete documentation from all countries worldwide. Czech Republic, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Slovenia (arriving by land), Sweden and Switzerland have removed restrictions and requirements for all travellers within the EU and EFTA.

Differences between EU member states remain with regards to the type of vaccine, recovery, test certificate accepted from non-EU countries and requirements for non-vaccinated children. Further information can be found on our COVID-19 resources page where the latest version of our database is available to download.

Visas and Borders

Entry/Exit System (EES)

The European Commission has postponed the introduction of the Entry/Exit System (EES) until the end of September 2022 (and may be subject to further delay). The EES is an automated IT system for registering non-EU nationals including visa required and visa-exempt travellers entering the Schengen Area plus EU non-Schengen countries Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. There is no cost to the traveller. The EES will replace manual stamping in a passport and enable use of e-gates. Discussion is ongoing how this will be introduced at certain ports, in particular land ports, where passengers may need to leave their vehicle.


​​​​Following the introduction of the EES, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is expected to be introduced in May 2023. To enter the Schengen Area plus EU non-Schengen countries Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, visa-exempt travellers will require a pre-clearance permit valid for 3 years at a cost of €7 for adults between the ages of 18-70. Multiple visits are permitted within the 3 years. Further information can be found on our Visas and Borders page. The EES and ETIAS will not be applicable for all non-EU nationals travelling to Ireland.

Tour guide ID Cards

ETOA Tour Guide ID card applications are now open for the 2022 season

ETOA’s Tour Guide ID Card is a photo-ID card available to professionals contracted or employed by ETOA members or individuals offering their services via an ETOA member intermediary such as a guiding agency, walking tour company, online platform or DMC.

Insight Hub and webinars

Destination and source market data

​​​​​​We have recently updated our Insight Hub with new pages for some destination NTOs/regional tourist boards, and a few source market NTOs that produce outbound stats to Europe.

If you are a DMO/NTO and would like to add your research page links to our Insight Hub, please contact Rachel Read.

Webinar | Risky Business – Collective Redress in the Tourism Industry

On 23 March ETOA, in collaboration with its partner ECTAA, delivered an expert webinar on collective redress through representative action (sometimes referred to as ‘class action’). A new EU directive must be implemented across all EU27 to ensure collective redress mechanisms are in place. This is an EU response to perceived consumer detriment, for example ‘Dieselgate’ where hundreds of thousands of consumers were affected but had insufficient or impractical legal recourse.