City tourism: Operators Update

May 2019

This update includes a link about disruption expected in Paris on 1 May. A more general and worrying theme is that coach tourism is being further controlled – and is still widely misunderstood – by legislators, destinations and attractions. Anti-tourism sentiment, in which coaches are a symbol of ‘mass tourism,’ is a serious threat to the value-adding group travel industry. Working with partners including IRU and EACT to defend the interests of coach tourism, one thing has become increasingly clear: negative perceptions of coach tourism are growing. We will continue to combat this, and operators can help through ensuring that drivers and guides comply with local rules.

POLICY

 

Schengen Visa Code

On 17 April the European Parliament (EP) accepted the Visa Code proposals, referring them back to Council and Commission with final amendments; more details of those are here. Procedural updates will be published here. While there has not been enough progress, especially towards rationalising documentary requirements, the final
position on when applications may be lodged – up to 6 months in advance of travel – is an improvement. The amended text agreed by the EP is as below. While subsequent final approval by Council will be too late to influence much of the 2019 season, there should be significant benefit for 2020.

“Applications shall be lodged no more than six months, and for seafarers in the performance of their duties no more than nine months, before the start of the intended visit, and, as a rule, no later than 15 calendar days before the start of the intended visit. In justified individual cases of urgency, the consulate or the central authorities may allow the lodging of applications later than 15 calendar days before the start of the intended visit.”

Brexit

The EU has granted the UK a further extension to remain in the EU until 31 October 2019, with the option to leave before this date. The latest guidance relating to the travel industry post Brexit can be read on our website here. Despite the delay, the EU Settlement Scheme remains open. All EU citizens who currently live in the UK (except Irish and those with indefinite leave) must apply to be granted settled or pre settled status. This is free and the current processing time is 5-9 days where no additional information is required. Deadline to apply is 31 December 2020.

Mobility package 1 – Coach driving and rest time rules

The European Parliament has voted to adopt the European Commission’s Mobility Package 1, a wide-ranging set of rules and regulations concerning the governance of the commercial road sector (passenger and haulage). Over the past year, the package has been subject to much debate in Parliament. We have lobbied through our industry partnerships with IRU (International Road Union) and EACT (European Alliance for Coach Tourism) for amendments to the package in support of coach tourism, demonstrating the difference in its driving and rest patterns and requirements from those applicable to road haulage.

Amendments which were tabled include the extension of the 12-day rule to national operations (this rule currently only applies to international operations), the possibility of extending the daily driving time by 1 hour twice per week and drivers to continue to be allowed to compensate for a period of reduced weekly rest to a period of rest of at least 9 hours. Unfortunately, all amendments were voted against by Parliament due to supposed concerns arising should there be differing rules between the passenger and haulage sectors.

There is some good news: an EU framework will be established to clarify what types of operations are considered as ‘posting’ (i.e. when a driver working abroad would be subject to local social payment requirements etc.) This would limit the administrative requirements that member states may impose on transport operators. The Commission shall, no later than 2 years after entry into force of the package, evaluate and report to Parliament and Council if more adequate rules for coach tourism can be adopted and if appropriate make legislative proposals accordingly. We have had a meeting with the Commission addressing our wishes and concerns, in particular the extension of the 12-day rule to national operations.

Trilogue negotiations on the package between Council, Parliament and the Commission will start once the new Parliament is voted in. If the mobility package is approved for implementation, compensation for reduced weekly rest will have to take place after a period of full weekly rest (e.g. 66 hours). This would remove current flexibility and immobilise drivers for 3 consecutive days at least every other week. Should an implementation date be decided for the package we will let members know but it is likely that driving and rest time rules will remain as they are now until at least the end of 2020.

Sustainability

ETOA is working with its strategic partners ETC, NECSTouR and CELTH to develop a common position and work programme, building on independent work to date. The combined membership of the three organisations brings together the private sector, DMOs, national tourism organisations, regional government and academic expertise. We will have a joint workshop in Brussels in early May, one of whose outcomes will be content for the Lucerne summit – themed this year as ‘Tourism in Transition’. Current policy statement here.

DESTINATIONS

 

Croatia

Guiding regulation consultation: This link goes to a current consultation regarding guiding regulation in Croatia; as it is only in local language, our ability to follow the content is very limited. Please feel free to contribute if you speak the language.

Czech Republic

Český Krumlov New Coach Plan: From 01 May, coach access will be prevented on Zámecká Zahrada (east of Ptačí Hrádek) leading to the P4 Marketa parking area next to the castle gardens. This is due to concerns over the road condition for use by large vehicles. Vehicles under 5000kg will still be allowed such as minibuses. Coaches are to use Bus Stop B on Chvalšinská which is free until 1 June 2019. Toilet facilities are located 250 metres away at car park P1 while toilet facilities are installed at Bus Stop B. The result of these changes will require passengers to walk for 10 minutes up a step free hill on Na Dlouhé Zdi to visit the Castle. Alternatively, the castle courtyard can be accessed via steps on Hradni.

From 01 June, a new coach plan will be introduced (details here). To drop off or pick up, coaches can use either the current Bus Stop B or the new Bus Stop A, both on Chvalšinská. Fees will be €25 for each entry (€50 for drop off/pick up). If passengers stay overnight the fee is €15 for each entry. For coach parking P-Bus is located nearby with driver facilities (not available for passengers) at €4 per hour (max €24 per day). Fees are 50% less if coaches use either Bus Stop A or B to drop off/pick up passengers. The booking facility goes online at midday on 02 May. If the P-Bus parking becomes full, private parking is available just outside Český Krumlov to the East at similar rates and drivers can pay on the day.

France

Following a meeting of ETOA’s working group in Paris, we have been made aware of the following:
• Paris coach permit: Paris Pass autocar permits will increase by 1-2% in January 2020.
• Louvre: It is still proving to be difficult bringing groups to the museum. Regulations are unclear and contradicting. We are trying to identify the right contact at the museum after a recent change.
• Pont du Gard: following a ticket price increase of 50% over the last two years, we are in contact with the management regarding future changes.

Paris 01 May demonstrations: We have been made aware that there will be widespread demonstrations throughout the city tomorrow. The demonstrations will be scattered around the city and include areas such as Arc de Triomphe, Place d’Italie and Montparnasse area. Please follow this link for the latest updates on demonstrations announced. Some coach parking will also be closed, please see Pass autocar’s website for details.

Paris – Tour Saint-Jacques coach drop off: On 20 April several changes were made to the Parisien public bus system. An apparent consequence is that coaches may no longer use the drop-off point at Tour Saint-Jacques. We are seeking clarification from the Paris authorities.

Paris – Notre Dame fire: As others have said, Paris has been put to the test in recent years. We share in the deep grief at the devastation to such a beloved cultural and spiritual symbol of worldwide significance and offer our heartfelt sympathies. We have already heard via the travel press in the USA that at least some people are saying ‘let’s go to Paris’ in a show of support and solidarity, and we are sure this sentiment will be widely shared.

The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau is working with tourism stakeholders and institutional bodies to support and promote Paris and welcome visitors in the best conditions.

OTCP has published the following information:

Our concierge service is on hand to help you to re-programme the activities of Tour Operators and other stakeholders and advise your customers so that their stay remains a memorable one. Our teams can be contacted on +33 1 49 52 42 63, from Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and on Saturday from 9.30am to 5.30pm, and at our information office on 29 rue de Rivoli every day from 10am to 7pm (last entry 6.45pm).

Our website www.parisinfo.com and our social networks @parisjetaime will keep you informed in real time about the re-opening of the Île de la Cité and its monuments as well as any eventual modifications to services by our partners (cruise companies, sightseeing bus operators).

The exemplary response of the OTCP and civil authorities to this event underscores the city’s resilience. The extraordinary breadth of its cultural assets, as well as its hospitality, will continue to draw visitors from markets worldwide.

Italy

Venice – landing fee: The city has now created an English document regarding the new fee. Please click here to download. The main change is that the starting date has been moved to 01 September 2019. For 2019 visitors arriving on a coach paying the ZTL will be exempt.

Venice – Tour leader fined: We have been made aware that a tour leader contracted for a member has been fined in Venice. The stated reason was not having a visible badge on them to prove their right to guide. While ETOA ID cards do not confer rights to guide, it is apparent that they are seen as a form of positive identification of status. We suggest that you warn all your contracted guides providing their services in Italy to always wear a visible badge, either the ETOA Tour Guide ID card or a company badge. If your company has not yet been registered for the ETOA ID cards, please contact tourguide@etoa.org. The service is available for all members’ contracted tour guides/managers.

Rome – Colosseum: Due to recent abuse of the ticketing system at Colosseum, new restrictions have been put in place. The official document can be found here. Below are the main changes. We are not yet aware of the timeline for the changes.
• On line tickets selling must be organised in a way that a few tickets remain available on-line for last minute individual selling. This is to avoid unlicensed selling outside (the “skip the line” people).
• The guide can buy up to 13 extra tickets ‘on site’ for the same day visit.
• Local guides with a guiding license from Lazio region can activate the new annual pass, that allows 3 entrance a day.
• A priority desk for guides will be set at Venere e Roma ticket office and one inside the Colosseum. Furthermore, the guides have priority access at the Salara ticket counter.
• It will be possible to exchange the ticket voucher at both the Stern entrance and the Salara ticket desk.

Rome – Vatican Museum: We are in close contact with the secretariat of the Vatican museum and will be informed regarding any updates or changes they may implement. If you would like to know more or if you have any challenges, please contact Tini Gattazzo.

Greece

Border control: New systematic checks have been implemented at the border for all European citizens travelling to/from destinations outside the Schengen area (e.g. from UK and Ireland). This is in line with the 2017 Schengen Border Code regulations. As a result, visitors may face increased waiting times at passport control.

Netherlands

Amsterdam – coach plan and access charges: The city’s stated ambition is to limit coaching still further within the A10 and IJ river. Operationally, this would be near impossible to manage. Tactically, it is essential that the industry provides support for the city’s transport department’s efforts to demonstrate that coaching is both necessary (given the absence of practical alternatives) and responsible. Following a meeting with the transport department, it is apparent that illegal coach parking, turning and other breaches of current traffic regulations is causing animosity among residents, and feeding a social media campaign against coaching that features pictures of offending vehicles. The political pressure is growing in consequence.

Operators are asked to make every effort to ensure compliance with current restrictions so that we can present the industry as a responsible road user that provides essential access. This may require an information campaign among guides and drivers. Current city policy is here; live information about parking and access here.

ETOA is closely engaged with local stakeholders as the city’s tourism policy evolves. The gap between aspiration and practice demonstrates the complexity of reengineering a city’s access and tax base; unintended consequences will arise. The day-tax for cruise passengers has already led to more business for Ijmuiden and Rotterdam, loss of revenue to Amsterdam and increased road traffic.

Amsterdam – guiding regulations: Following meetings with local stakeholders in Amsterdam, the new 19:00 guiding cut-off in the Wallen area is proving to be impractical. Despite the city’s promise to either refund or acknowledge tours already booked after 19:00, no exceptions have been made. The regulation has caused increased congestion of groups between 17:00 and 19:00. According to an internal survey, 77% of participants on a walking tour would still visit the area after the tour on their own, thus contributing to overall footfall.

Meetings and local consultations regarding the 2020 regulations are still being held. It is suggested that the new area of regulations (max 15 pax, and permit required) will be the entire area within the s100 ring road. Operators are already reporting challenges in moving groups to/from restaurants. With an expanded area, this will affect restaurants, museums and other attractions working with groups. We will follow the case closely and update when possible.

Amsterdam – Tourism tax: Our current understanding is that accommodation tax may increase to 9-10% in 2020. Furthermore, the VRM applicable on canal cruises, sightseeing buses and walking tours (from 2020), may increase from €0.66 to €3.00 in 2020. The numbers are not confirmed, but potential increases. The 2018 Coalition Agreement for Amsterdam can be found here, see page 74-77 for proposed finances.

Amsterdam – Anne Frank House: As per our February newsletter, Anne Frank House no longer permit tour operators and other re-sellers to purchase tickets. We have recently been made aware that the museum has looked through booking emails to identify operators and then advised the operators to stop booking tickets. While the tickets already booked will be accepted, the museum has advised that any further bookings will be cancelled and not refunded.

We know this is very frustrating for operators planning and selling products up to 24 months in advance. We have been in contact with the museum to work on a temporary structure for 2019 to accept bookings from operators due to their short notice period, so far without luck.

Rotterdam – Kinderdijk: We have been advised that it is no longer possible for coaches to stop for photos due to an effort to limit traffic congestion. There is now only one official drop off point for coaches, which require entrance tickets for the visitor centre and windmill.

While ETOA recognises the need to manage traffic flow, the change has affected and will affect operators’ ability to fulfil their itineraries as sold due to lack of adequate notice. We are in contact with Kinderdijk to understand the new procedures as the changes have forced some operators to only visit after 17:30 (after the visitor centre is closed) or to walk clients to the site to ensure the itinerary is followed.

If you are aware of other attractions making similar changes, please contact policy@etoa.org.

Spain

Alhambra: As per our March Newsletter, there are no further meetings planned for the time being, due to structural changes and local elections. If you have any questions regarding Alhambra ticketing or if you experience difficulties with the new requirements, please contact Jorge Traver.

Barcelona – Sagrada Familia ticketing: In light of recent communications with members, we have been alerted to ongoing concerns in acquiring tickets for both groups and FITs. Despite repeated efforts including visiting in person to attempt to get a meeting, we have no news from Sagrada Familia about the booking situation. We will continue to approach Sagrada Familia to establish a dialogue after a seemingly successful meeting with them in November 2018. If you have any concerns or specific issues you would like to discuss, please contact Jo Cadier.

Barcelona 30th anniversary drinks – save the date: ETOA will host a drinks
reception on 06 June celebrating our 30th anniversary with members and nonmembers. If you are interested in attending, please click this link. More details to follow, venue and time are still TBC. Barcelona working group: on 07 June we will hold our next Barcelona working group meeting discussing operational challenges and developments for members. If you would like to hear more, please contact policy@etoa.org.

United Kingdom

E-gates: Citizens from 7 non-EU countries (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and USA) will be allowed to use e-gates at the border from June if they have a biometric passport and aged 12 years or over. Due to the Cricket World Cup, the UK Government are aiming for this to be operational from 13 May. Passengers should check for appropriate signage at passport control in airports and ports. In addition, citizens of these 7 countries will no longer be required to complete or present a landing card.

London – Group Tourism Working group: ETOA is holding the first meeting on 2 May. The purpose of this working group is to understand general challenges for group tourism and operational updates throughout Europe. A few spaces are still available. If you would like to hear more, please contact Sofie Jensen.

Events

 

Past

• 09 April, Venice: ETOA hosted a seminar and panel discussion in Venice on sustainable tourism followed by networking drinks; speakers included academics, policy makers and the private sector. Please follow this link to find presentations from the event.

Future

• 03 May, London: ETOA will contribute to a panel on sustainable tourism at an event arranged by the Balearics.
• 17 May, Naples: ETOA will be speaking at the 2nd TopRail Forum in Naples. Operators interested in rail product may wish to attend. More information here.
• 24 May, Debrecen: ETOA will be speaking on cultural tourism at an event for candidate cities for European City of Culture
• 06 June, Barcelona: ETOA will speak at the thematic round table “The involvement of private sector in the tourism sustainability” part of the
Mediterranean Sustainable Tourism Convention 2019, taking place in Barcelona 5-7 June. Organised by the Diputació de Barcelona, this event aims to promote the debate on sustainable tourism, as well as to present the solutions developed by the projects of the Sustainable Tourism Community of MED to the challenges facing the Mediterranean. It will bring together 200 representatives of the tourism sector from private and public entities and institutions of higher education.

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