Destination and Policy Update

May 2020

This update contains information about Amsterdam guiding and coach plan, Louvre museum, decree on voucher refunds for Italian museums and an update on ETOA’s policy activity to support members.

With tourism operations stalled across Europe during this crisis we are focusing on lobbying on a European wide level for:

  • Access to liquidity, especially for SMEs
  • Resolution to cancellation and refund policies
  • Better practical information to enable future planning
  • Coordination in standards for food, accommodation, transport systems under any new public health guidelines

We are adding information to the COVID-19 page on a frequent basis. To reflect the rate of change to information, updated content, new webinars and other ETOA activity will be covered in weekly bulletins.

We continue to hold frequent meetings with members to understand current priorities during the crisis, and impact across the full range of business models represented within ETOA’s membership. We are very appreciative of members’ active support and solidarity with each other. The high degree of information sharing has a direct impact on our ability to lobby effectively and encourages common action which ETOA can support. If you would like to hear more about ETOA working groups, please contact


All our current efforts are focused on crisis response and business support. While the liquidity remains uppermost in Members’ minds, governments across Europe continue to develop various financial support instruments. The fragmented nature of this response is problematic for operators with business across many destinations. Operators not established in Europe can be particularly hard hit.

Together with our partner associations in Brussels we have had unprecedented access to senior decision makers. ETOA is in direct contact with EU Commissioners for tourism and transport discussing matters from financial aid to practical impact of social distancing on group travel. The EU ‘Joint European Roadmap’ for exiting lockdown is on our website. However, while the EU continues to push for a coordinated approach to easing border restrictions, these will remain matters of national competence and we believe it is likely that bilateral arrangements between neighbouring countries will characterize the early stages of border relaxation.

We have direct input to national policy discussion via two meetings of the OECD Tourism Committee and through contact with Ministers. The Croatian Presidency of the European Council has ensured that urgent support for tourism is top of the agenda. Full coverage here. While there are no easy solutions, the significance of the sector has been understood, as has the necessity for its strategic integration into recovery plans.

Package Travel

Extreme difficulties caused by the multiple approaches to cancellation and refunds arise through national variation in approaches to Package Travel, and EU Regulations 181 and 261 affecting road and air travel. Short-term, these can only be resolved at national level given the political obstacles to change at EU level: there is strong resistance in the European Parliament to measures that reduce consumer protection. The argument continues in order to find an equitable and rational way to share the current financial pain.

Destinations’ planning assumptions

The central planning assumption from European destinations’ perspective is that demand will first come from domestic markets, then regional, then long-haul. While consumer confidence and aviation safety protocols will be pre-conditions for significant return to long-haul travel volumes, the development stimulus provided by the need to improvise and adapt over the next 18-24 months will bring new product to market; this will provide fresh opportunities for buyers worldwide.


Despite tourism operations being stalled across Europe, we are still monitoring changes that may affect operations after the crisis. If you believe we are missing information on a specific topic or destination, or would like to bring something to our attention, please contact


Paris – Louvre: Members are reporting that they are awaiting information from the Louvre regarding their refund policy for tickets unused due to the crisis. It is not clear if the museum will provide a monetary refund or vouchers. We will continue to follow up with the museum for clarification.


A recent decree about refunds of tickets for shows, museums and other places of culture (article 88 of the legislative decree n. 18/2020) has made it possible for museums to offer ticket vouchers (validity one year) instead of cash refunds for tickets purchased for during the lock down period.

Local members and other stakeholders are working together to find a solution with MIBACT to mitigate the financial burden this decree brings on members. If you would like to know more, please contact Sofie Jensen.

CoopCulture has announced the voucher system for Colosseum tickets. Simultaneously, members are reporting a lack of communication from Opera Laboratori Fiorentini (managing reservations for Uffizi and Accademia in Florence), to whom some operators have invested large deposits for the season.


Amsterdam – guiding: We have been in contact with the Gemeente in Amsterdam and they have confirmed that the new guiding regulations are now applicable for guided groups of more than four people in the entire city centre, not just the Red Light District. Read more about the new regulations here.

Amsterdam – coach plan 2020-25: We have been informed by the Gemeente that a formal decision on the plan has been delayed until after the summer. The timeline for the proposed measures currently stays the same. Further information on the plan can be found on our Amsterdam page.

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