Destination and Policy Update

March 2020

Members are reporting increased difficulties in securing tickets for attractions and museums, including tightened regulations for group bookings in 2020 and high pressure on online booking portals. If you are experiencing challenges with other attractions or museums than already mentioned in these updates, please contact us via

This update includes operational information about new entry pass regulations for the Auschwitz museum, ticketing at Louvre, Amsterdam guiding update, and news of Alhambra and Sagrada Familia. Illustrating the need to support cross-border service provision, over 1000 ETOA Tour Guide ID Cards have been ordered so far this year. For more information, click here. If you would like to know more about ETOA’s policy activity, the calendar can be found here.

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.


Covid-19 (Coronavirus): ETOA attended a meeting in Brussels on 19 February at which a cross-section of the European travel and tourism industry joined representatives of the European Commission, UNWTO and delegates from China’s Mission to the EU to discuss the impact of and response to the spread of Covid-19. One outcome was a statement from the European Tourism Manifesto (of which ETOA is a founder member). Members should continue to monitor government guidance in both destination and clients’ country of origin. We have published a link on the Italy destination page to official guidance provided by Italy’s Ministry of Health.

We are aware that operators are in dialogue with suppliers following cancellation by clients who are taking precautions in excess of those currently advised by government(s). As for the Chinese market in general, ETOA’s position is that both public and private sectors should try to do what they can to improve conditions for market recovery when it comes. Any proactive discretion during current circumstances, e.g. extending visa validity or offering credit notes for unused bookings, will give a positive signal as well as be of practical value.

EU policy priorities: On 19 February the European Commission published its strategy on data. Topics include those central to better tourism management, including the rights and obligations to share data. This, together with the European Green Deal, is expected to form the basis for the Commission’s main legislative agenda.

TOMS VAT – The consultation on the legislative roadmap setting out how the European Commission will approach the review of TOMS VAT will close on 3 March. The Commission’s formal intentions are set out below. ETOA’s general position remains that simplification is desirable – multiple VAT registration is cumbersome and will drive up costs to consumer – and that exports of European tourism services should be VAT-free. It is important to note that the scope of review will include consideration of operators located outside the EU when evaluating the overall fairness of the scheme. The emergence of the UK as a ‘third country’ when it is also the EU’s second largest source market is a new factor in policy making.

[The European Commission intends] to evaluate the application and implementation of the special scheme in Member States, because origin-based taxation requires a harmonised application of the special scheme in order to prevent distortion of competition. The evaluation will assess fiscal effects and consequences that may have materialized and possibly affected the level playing field within the European Union and vis-à-vis economic operators located in third countries with a view to determine to what extent the special VAT scheme for travel agents is fit for purpose and has delivered the desired impacts at minimum costs. The evaluation will further assess, if there is still a need for granting travel agents and tour operators special VAT rules. In this context, developments in the regulatory framework, like the introduction of the “One Stop Shop” in 2021 (a solution enabling all businesses that deal with final consumers to avoid multiple registrations and declarations) and the shift to destination-based taxation (in the current VAT Directive and in a definitive VAT system) will be important aspects to consider. The evaluation will cover the complete period since the creation of the special scheme in 1977. In terms of geographical coverage, the evaluation will cover all EU Member States. The assessment of whether it ensures a level playing field will also cover economic operators located in third countries.

Brexit – New guidance pages have been published on our website. Please note, some of the guidance post-transition (scheduled from 1 January 2021) could change depending on the outcome of negotiations on the future trading relationship between the EU and the UK. The ‘post transition’ page has a grid on the border process for visitors (EU and non-EU nationals) that can be downloaded to help with customer and staff queries. Information on the UK’s ‘points based’ immigration strategy announced by the UK Government can be found here.

Sustainability – Rail tourism event, Lucerne, 29 May 2020. Building on its partnership with UIC, ETOA will offer a masterclass at the next TopRail Forum focusing on how railways can work better with the travel trade. If operators or DMCs with particular expertise are interested in participating in this session, or would like to contribute insight, please contact us.




Paris – Louvre ticketing: Members have reported more difficulties than usual in securing group tickets. We have been in contact with the museum and our understanding is that group allocations have been reduced dramatically for 2020 to limit crowds; there are only very few group slots available up until end of June 2020. Read more.

Paris – transport survey: The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau (OTCP) is considering the creation of a “Congress Travel Pass”. To understand interests and expectations, they have created a questionnaire which will help them adapt this product to potential needs. Read more about public transport in Paris here.


VIVA: ETOA’s first Italy-focused B2B workshop took place in Rome on 18 February, beginning with a policy briefing covering EU, national and regional perspectives, featuring presentations from the European Parliament, ENIT, Trentino and Tuscany. Notable was a recognition that public and private sectors need to collaborate more closely in tourism’s development across Italy.

Rome – Vatican museum: Members have reported difficulties in making online group bookings, especially over the Easter period. We have approached the museum to understand if they have experienced unusual increased demand during this period. If you have similar challenges, please contact us.

Rome – Coach plan: Thanks to the help of local members who provided valuable input, we have sent a report regarding current coach plan to Roma Mobilità. Links to the documents are published under ‘Rome Coach Plan’ in the Access and Mobility section of the Rome page.


Amsterdam – guiding: On 13 February the Gemeente published their response to the consultation submissions as well as the final programme for guiding in Amsterdam city centre, which is set to commence 01 April 2020. There are no changes from the draft programme published November 2019. The final decision to implement the proposed plan should be made in March 2020 following a vote at the city hall. More information on our Amsterdam page.


Krakow – Auschwitz museum entry passes: Conditions for purchasing group entry passes for Auschwitz museum has changed. It is no longer possible to purchase entry passes without the full name of the visitors. New terms and conditions here (note §4 and §8) and information about visits in general here. This has previously only been required when purchasing individual tickets, but due to excessive illegal re-selling of group tickets, the museum found it necessary to apply this additional measure.

We have been in contact with the museum to clarify details regarding regulations around amendment and additions. They are open to constructive feedback from travel agents and operators regarding the new system and are looking into the possibility of softer amendment terms as they are aware of the potential impact on businesses. Please contact Sofie Jensen if you have comments, suggestions or questions regarding the new regulation.


Barcelona – Sagrada Familia: We have been in close contact with the Operations Department regarding their ticketing system and have updated details on the Barcelona page, including information about group allocations and travel trade contact details.

Barcelona – Teleferic de Montjuic: The Montjuic cable car is now fully operational, reopening on the 17 February after maintenance closures. More information can be found here.

Balearic Islands – The Government has passed a decree effective from 23 January 2020 which has implemented a range of measures for five years in specific areas of the islands, affecting ‘all inclusive’ packages, shops selling alcohol and targeting anti-social behaviour. Further information can be found here.

Granada – Alhambra: Since Alhambra announced that new ticket regulations will be implemented by March 2020 for bookings from May 2020 onwards, we have been in close contact with them. We have arranged a meeting to go through feedback and questions regarding the new setup. We will continue to update the Spain page with new information when available.

United Kingdom

Bath – The council has announced traffic plans for the coming year which will lead to road closures and diversions. Most disruption is anticipated from June to October and work has already begun in Queen Square. More information on the plans can be found here.

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