Destination and Policy Update

February 2020

In 2019 we issued over 2,500 ETOA Tour Guide ID cards for more than 100 ETOA member companies. The application form for the 2020 card is now open (valid until 31 March 2021).

ETOA’s Tour Guide ID Card is a photo-ID card available to professionals contracted by ETOA members or individuals offering their services via an ETOA member intermediary such as a guiding agency, walking tour company, online platform or DMO. For more information, please contact Giuseppe Del Prete via The price for the card is €25 plus VAT.

Tour guide ID card


This update contains an important update about ticketing at Alhambra from May 2020. If your company books Alhambra tickets directly or through local agents/guides, please read the section and our website carefully as the changes will affect booking horizon and product.

Save the date: ETOA’s next Group Tourism Working Group will be held on 22 April. Please contact Sofie Jensen if you would like to hear more. An email to previous attendees will be sent in due course.


VAT: December’s update from Elman Wall Bennett is available here. Content includes updates on application of TOMS in Germany, Austria and Belgium, and a review of possible options in the UK from 2021 onwards.

Brexit: The UK will leave the EU at 23.00 GMT on 31st January. The withdrawal agreement is in the final stage of ratification and the UK will then enter a period of transition until 31 December 2020. The UK will still apply EU laws during 2020 and there will be no changes for visitors or workers travelling. For example, entry requirements at the UK and EU border will remain the same such as identity cards remain valid for entry to the UK during 2020 and the European Health Insurance Card can still be used in the UK and by UK citizens in the EU.

Changes from 2021 are likely and the impact depends on the negotiation outcomes on the future relationship between the EU and UK. We are frequently in contact with government officials regarding priorities for the European tourism industry and raising awareness of potential issues such as the freedom of non-EU professionals to provide services (see below). Please continue to check our webpage for updates during 2020.

Freedom to provide services – non-EU professionals: During 2020, ETOA will be active promoting the necessity of non-EU professionals visiting Europe to provide services, particularly for group tourism. These include Chinese guides accompanying groups (as required under ADS agreements), educators accompanying students, specialist cooks accompanying groups with specific dietary requirements, and non-EU tour guides accompanying groups. All are subject to standard immigration requirements, 90 days within 180. Most typically do not formally enter the EU ‘on business’, despite the fact they are working. They therefore inhabit a grey area so far as immigration is concerned.

With the prospect of UK tour guides and experts losing the freedom to provide services within the EU from 2021, the volume of non-EU individuals needed to ensure the smooth running of group tourism in the Europe will grow and may attract more attention. The status of EU and non-EU professionals in the UK is also in question. We will conduct a survey of operator members to assess operational needs and concerns as a basis for further action. Please contact to inform us who should receive the survey at your company. Further information here.

Sustainability: ETOA is exploring the possibility of providing access to a high-quality carbon offsetting scheme to its members and their clients. While we recognise that many members have their own sustainability programmes, there is a demand for a ‘turn-key’ solution which makes implementation easy. We will also explore offset options for our own events. If you are interested in learning more about our work on this, please contact

Coach transport regulation: The EU ‘Mobility Package 1’ concerning the regulation of driving times and rest periods is expected to be published in April and enter into force 20 days later. Current coach regulation remains unaffected. Attempt to improve the regulation to allow the 12-day rule to be able to be applied to itineraries in one country only was unsuccessful, despite support from the European Commission (EC) that the extension would not impact road safety. The European Parliament opposed the change as the regulation also affects freight transport, and there were concerns that changes could adversely affect long-distance drivers. However, a ‘review clause’ was agreed which requires the EC to study within the next two years whether there should be specific rules for coach tourism. We do not foresee any changes until then.

Tourist tax rates: During January 2020, nearly all tourist tax pages have been reviewed for approximately 150 destinations (Albania, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia to be completed). Changes are highlighted on each webpage and new destinations added; some changes listed below. We will conduct the next full review in the summer (most changes occur at the start of the calendar year). In the meantime, we will continue to monitor specific countries where news is forecast, in particular Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom.

  • BelgiumBruges rate remains the same during 2020 and the rate for 2021-2025 announced including for Ghent, Kortrijk and Ostend
  • BulgariaPlovdiv rate increase from 1 January 2020
  • Croatia – Page refresh for new regulation. Zagreb rate increase from 1 January 2020 and Dubrovnik rate increase announced from 1 January 2021
  • Hungary – Rate increase for two districts in Budapest from 1 January 2020
  • Italy –Stamp days 2020 calendar published highlighting the amount of tax to be paid by day visitors to Venice from July 2020
  • Netherlands – Rate change in Breda and The Hague from 1 January 2020
  • PolandGdansk rate increase from 1 January 2020
  • RomaniaBucharest rate increase from 1 January 2020
  • Spain – Potential introduction in San Sebastian and surcharge to be implemented in Barcelona
  • Switzerland – Rate change in Geneva from 1 January 2020
  • United KingdomHighland Council in Scotland study



A new €10 fee for CDD d’usage: As previously reported, the French government has imposed a new tax on ad hoc fixed-term contracts, including for day work. This is evidently highly inflationary in comparison with a half-day guiding service, for example, as well as administratively cumbersome. Domestic regulation and tax makes self-employment (as an auto-entrepreneur) less favourable than in some other countries, and entitlement to social benefits such as ASSEDIC may be conditional on sufficient duration of employment within a year. The Enterprises du Voyage, a ldomestic trade association, report that some of its members may incur an additional €100k cost through guide bookings. Domestic lobbying efforts against the tax did not have any impact. The suggestion is that it is designed as a deterrent to the ‘gig’ economy but, since it is not possible to assure continuous work for activity such as guiding, this seems counter-productive. We will continue to make that point and update our France page accordingly.


ENIT, Italy’s tourism board, has released their marketing plan for 2020. More information on our Italy page under resources.

Rome – Colosseum: On 20 December 2019 new ticket options for 2020 were released. Changes to daily limits for Colosseum tickets via the Stern entrance for 2020 creates operational difficulties for members. Our summary of the current position and ticket options is available via our Rome destination Page. We have written to the Sovrintendenza, the official responsible for the archaeological site, expressing concern and seeking dialogue. Furthermore, the ticket office has moved within the last few months, now located on Via dei Verbiti. While it has been reported that getting tickets is easier, it takes time to go and come back especially when entering through Stern. We are seeking clarification if this will be permanent.

Rome – coach plan: We are currently collecting feedback from members regarding the coach plan introduced in 2019, which we will submit to the Comune in due course. The feedback report will be uploaded here when submitted.

Rome – Vatican: The Vatican museum has just released the dates for their night openings in 2020. More information here.

Naples – coach access plan: The city of Naples has extended the banned access to the historical centre for coaches with over nine seats to 5 February. Exceptions apply. Our understanding is that this ban may be extended and that a decision will be made in March. More information about the plan and its exceptions on our Italy page, which will be updated accordingly.


Amsterdam – Working Group meeting: The group met on 15 January to discuss industry response to tourist taxes (in particular VMR), guiding regulation and coach access.

Amsterdam – VMR: The ‘entertainment tax’ regulation has been extended to include walking tours (both guided and unguided) from 1 January 2020. Further information on the regulation can be found here. The difficulty in collecting the tax has been raised with the Gemeente and discussed in our Amsterdam working group. The Gemeente are insisting it is the organiser who is liable to pay the tax (i.e. the business who is directly paid by the customer). This may be different to the intermediary who hires the guide for the tour. Furthermore, non-Netherlands businesses are to register to pay the tax. We recognise there are legal implications, especially concerning the registration form and GDPR, and are in dialogue with the Gemeente.

Amsterdam – Guiding: Gemeente’s response to consultation on the new guiding regulation is expected in February. The City Council is to vote on approving the regulations in March with implementation scheduled for 1 April 2020.

Amsterdam – Coach access: We expect an official response to the coach consultation in February. Further information on the proposed plan and our response to the consultation can be found here.


Granada – Alhambra ticketing: The Board of Trustees of the Alhambra and Generalife have issued new regulations for the site following official notification on 24 January 2020. This will have a significant impact on 2020 production and future product design. Links to the full resolution in English and Spanish as well as an overview of the plan can be found on our Spain destination page.

Barcelona: The city has published a report on patterns of repeat business. Nearly 50% are return visitors, though less than 5% of visitors from the US are returning visitors.

The city has also published a call to action from port and airport to address carbon emissions in the context of their 2030 plan in response to the climate emergency. Proposals include improved public transport to airport to minimise road congestion, and reducing flights in favour of long-distance rail. For the port, proposals include penalties corresponding to vessels’ pollution, reduction of stop-overs, and improved rail connections. More information via links on the destination page.

United Kingdom

Bath – Clean Air Zone: Bath and North East Somerset Council has approved the introduction of a clean air zone scheduled to start on 4 November 2020. The zone will be operational 24/7 365 days a year and coaches must be Euro VI (6) standard to enter the zone or pay £100 per day. Further information U.

Bath – Coach road restriction: Lansdown Place East and West is now subject to a width restriction whereby vehicles wider than 2m (6’ 6”) are prohibited (such as coaches). As a result, coaches are unable to access the Crescent and Upper Lansdown Mews.

London – Air quality: The Mayor of London has announced expanding the existing van scrappage scheme to coach operators with 50 or less employees from later this year to help comply with low emission zones in London. Details of the zones can be found on the London page. It is expected eligible operators will receive a grant of around £15,000 for each coach, up to a maximum 3 vehicles. Details of the scheme are to be finalised, but coach operators with 50 or less employees can pre-register interest here stating the types of vehicles in the fleet.

London – coach parking: For a limited time, 30 spaces are available at New Covent Garden Market, Nine Elms, SW8 5BH between 6am and 6pm Monday to Saturday, for a maximum period of 12 hours at an inclusive price of £35. Parking can not be reserved in advance. For more information, contact Covent Garden Market Authority (CGMA) or call 020 7720 2211.

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