City tourism: Operators Update

January 2019




The UK government’s current intention is to put a negotiated withdrawal agreement to a parliamentary vote mid-January. Pending associated parliamentary and government activity, the range of possible outcomes remains wide. Meanwhile, two concerns can be addressed.

Status of EU citizens in UK: the UK government has made it very clear that anyone currently resident in the UK will be welcome to remain. Future migration will be subject to the terms of any negotiation. UK government intention post-Brexit is an immigration policy based on skills and salary level from 2021 announced in a white paper on 19 December; this will be the subject of debate. Proposals in this paper also include:
– ending the acceptance of national ID cards from EU citizens
– introduction of an Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme (ETA), the UK equivalent of the EU Schengen ETIAS and USA ESTA schemes.
– allow citizens from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, USA, Singapore and South Korea to use e-gates at the UK border.
EU/UK flights: official guidance dated 19 December states that carriers from both EU and UK will be able to operate ‘certain services’ to and from EU and UK airports in the case of a ‘no deal’ for 12 months after the UK’s departure until 30 March 2020, subject to reciprocity by the UK. However, in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, it is highly likely that processing times at ports and airports will become much more lengthy due to the legal checks which would become mandatory if the UK leaves the EU’s single market and the customs union. This will have a very significant effect especially on coach travel to and from the continent. Non-EU citizens do not benefit from the EU’s freedom of movement arrangements. In the event of a ‘no-deal’ the European Commission has said in their guidance dated 13 November 2018 that UK citizens will not be able to use EU/EEA channels at airports. The UK’s ‘no deal’ guidance published 23 August, last updated 19 December can be found here.

Visa – ETIAS

Once European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) comes into force, UK citizens, like citizens of any other country outside the Schengen zone who currently enter Schengen on visa-waiver status, such as the United States, must obtain an ETIAS to enter Schengen. This scheme’s application to UK citizens is unrelated to Brexit, media reports notwithstanding (the scheme should be in operation before the end of 2021). It is a consequence of being outside the Schengen Area. The permit will last for three years and cost €7. The application process will be easy. ETOA was closely involved in both keeping the fee low and the process userfriendly.

Tourist / City Tax

We are currently reviewing tourist / city taxes across Europe and information on rates and exemptions will be on ETOA’s new website (being launched in January). Members will be informed through the operators update when this information will be available.

In the meantime, Paris will increase rates in 2019 to include a new regional tax which will be used for the development of the metro transport network.

As previously mentioned, Amsterdam have confirmed that the tax rate per room for overnight visitors will increase to 7% across the city. New for 2019 is the introduction of a daily rate of €8 per person for sea and river cruise passengers (children under 3 are exempt), who are on day visits and not staying in hotels. More information on the Dagtoeristenbelasting can be found here.




Rome’s new coach plan for 2019 will go ahead despite efforts to suspend the plan. We have issued another statement criticising the plan as there are still no clear operational guidelines. The booking system is now open but operators have found it complicated. There seem to be no live updates on available permits, which lead to operators paying with no certainty of the permits being approved.

If you have any questions, we have been in contact with Roma Mobilità via their call centre, Facebook and through emails to Ilaria Santoro and Luca Avarello. Their phone number is +390657003, but we have only managed to get through on the phone once
despite several attempts.

At the time of writing, there are no obvious signs in the city of Rome of any road works or road signage preparing the city for the new coach plan. The only noticeable change is closures of some parking areas over the holiday period. We are in close contact with local operators and stakeholders regarding any developments.

If you are not able to get the permit you are applying for due to various reasons, or if you have questions, which are not being answered by Roma Mobilità, please contact Sofie Jensen with details. We are gathering information about the system’s functionality and/or complexity and are in contact with local lawyers with regards to potential disputes.

Venice permits increase

In 2019 the cost of coach permits for Venice and surroundings will increase. Please see list for new price details. AVM website’s English page is not yet updated with this information, AVM’s Italian page is. Some of the changes include:
• Introducing high and low season prices; high season are the last 11 days of Carnevale as well as between 15 April and 3 November and from 23 February to 5 March. All other days are considered low season.
• For the permesso ordinario, a maximum number of permits for access to Tronchetto has been introduced to avoid congestion. We are seeking clarification on what the exact number is.
• A maximum number of permits for the category alberghi (hotels) has been introduced. We are seeking clarification on this number, too. Furthermore, the permit must be used by a single coach for a single service and cannot be shared between two coaches, regardless if they carry the same clients or not.
• Permits have previously been valid for 24 hour regardless when valid from. For the permits Ordinari, Minibus, Gita scolastica and deroga j is valid from 00:00 until 23:59 regardless when the vehicle enters the area. Excluded from this is the Alberghi permit. What is concerning is that it is necessary for operators to buy two permits instead of one for access on two days with a total duration of less than 24 hours. This will increase the price by over 100%.
• Our current understanding is that there will also be a charge of €50 when visiting some particular sites located on the mainland. We are investigating this as no further information currently is available.

We are in contact with the Uffizi Gallery in Florence regarding the €70 group fee they are introducing from March 2019. The fee is applicable for any group from 15- 25 pax regardless if the group is with a guide or not. No group over 25 pax is allowed. According to the Museum Director, this fee is ‘experimental’ and is being introduced to guarantee a more efficient visit of the museum and to promote better visits for everybody. The suggestion is that groups can cause congestion. This appears to be an example of revenue generation based on type of client purchasing (B2B) rather than nature of visit (moving around the museum as a group or as individuals). This is a worrying tendency and we are in contact with the museum officials to understand the reasoning better and to work towards a more inclusive ticketing system.


Paris ‘gilet jaunes’ movements is planning yet another demonstration Saturday 22nd December. If you have any planned groups or clients in Paris on Saturday, we advise you to follow this website closely for any updates on closures. Our current understanding is that these demonstrations will continue on Saturdays for the foreseeable future. We are in close contact with the Paris tourism board as well as the police department regarding any disruptions.

It has been noted that for the museums and attractions that have remained open, no extra security measures have been noticed and waiting time is reported to be as usual. Due to the Strasbourg shooting last week, Christmas markets only have one entrance point for security reason. If you have any questions or queries regarding the safety for groups, please contact Aliya.


The Spanish central government has planned their weekly cabinet meeting in Barcelona on Friday 21st December. This has led to planned demonstrations and  strikes on 20th and 21st December. It is expected that most of the protests will be concentrated around Llotja de Mar on the 21st and around Sofia Hotel on the 20th, where the cabinet meeting will be held. More information about the various demonstrations and strikes can be found here.

We are in continuous contact with Alhambra regarding the booking situation. Our next meeting with them will be held in February.

United Kingdom

Westminster Abbey is closed to the public on 11th March 2019 due to a Commonwealth service. They apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.




Visa meeting: On December 15th, ETOA attended the Tourism Forum convened by UKVI and DCMS, two UK government departments involved with visas and tourism respectively. Of note, the UK is ambitious to make progress towards an increasingly digital application process, with acceptance of digital documents. There is clear recognition that visa facilitation takes place within a competitive environment as other destinations grow in appeal. Scope remains for continued back-office bilateral collaboration with EU states to expedite applications. There was open recognition that service standards fell in 2017 due to issues with outsourcing; these has been addressed. Please continue to email if you experience poor turnaround or other difficulties in relation to UK visas.
ETC: On 11th December, ETOA attended a meeting of ETC’s market intelligence committee. Matters arising include: renewed focus among NTOs of value of tourism as opposed to volume; research into special-interest tourism whose results are expected Spring 2019; preliminary discussion of metrics for sustainability which will be continued at a Conference on Managing Sustainable Tourism Growth on 6th February 2019, and subsequent committee work.
OECD: ETOA attended an OECD event in Venice 6th-7th December which was their first attempt at a conference on culture and how it interacts with, for example, tourism. Of note, the Mayor of Venice indicated that the idea of a day-visit tax may be re-visited. The Vice-Mayor of Rome declared that ‘tourism has killed this city [Venice].’ While there is no doubt that tourism’s management is a necessary skill-set for local administration, attributing such negative qualities to tourism in a city which manifestly depends on it for its continued economic existence is not a useful intervention. More constructively, there was useful discussion about how themed tourism can drive product development away from over-crowded hot-spots. Upcoming
Coach Tourism: On 7th January in Halle, Germany, Jay Munro-Michel, ETOA Senior Manager Buyers and Travel Technology will be speaking at the RDA Coach Tourism Day conference on International Coach Tourism Issues.
UK Tourism: On 15th January, London, ETOA will attend a Welcome to Britain Working Group, hosted by Visit Britain.

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