ETOA urges European Parliamentarians to rid Schengen visa processes of pointless red tape to boost tourism from long haul markets

  • The EU Parliament’s LIBE and TRAN Committees will vote on the Visa Code on Monday 3 December 2018
  • ETOA Survey found current visa process is losing $1billion in tourism revenue from India

Travel industry body ETOA (European Tourism Association) is calling on European Parliamentarians who sit on the influential Committees of Transport and Tourism (TRAN) and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) to vote to streamline the Visa Code (2018/0061/COD) on Monday 3 December, to rid the process of unnecessary red tape, which is frustrating growth from key origin markets to Europe.

This year, ETOA has conducted a Schengen Visa Impact Survey amongst its members based in Europe, India and China.

Preliminary findings revealed that the current visa process is putting off 55% of Indian travellers considering the Schengen zone as a destination, costing the European tourism industry an estimated $1 billion from the Indian source market alone through lost in-destination spend. Other large visa-requiring markets such as Indonesia and Russia also have huge potential in high-spending visitors.

ETOA’s full Visa Impact Survey Report will be published in December 2018.

ETOA has broadly welcomed the opinions of Fernando Lopéz Aguilar MEP from the LIBE committee and the TRAN opinion from István Ujhelyi MEP. Both recognise the need to streamline documentary requirements for visa applicants; extend duration of multiple entry visas and increase the use of digital technology to improve processes, especially for applicants who live a long way from visa centres.

In addition, ETOA is highlighting the urgent need for reform of the regulations on proof of accommodation in visa applications as it leads to ‘dummy bookings,’ many of which are not honoured, wasting time and money within the industry.* ETOA is calling on the LIBE and TRAN committees to vote to amend these regulations as a matter of urgency.

Tim Fairhurst, Secretary General, ETOA AISBL said: “We are calling on European Parliamentarians to vote for streamlining the Schengen Visa regime on Monday to ensure that it is fit for purpose. Europe is losing visitors and related spend through bad bureaucracy. This has nothing to do with security; it is poor process and persistent misunderstanding of how long-haul travel works. At a time when Europe is looking hard at tourism’s value as well as volume, it cannot afford to lose competitive appeal.

“While improving speed and service requires significant investment, it will be repaid many times over through in-destination spend. Urgent reform is essential.”