Policy Update, June 2021
Health Credentials and Borders
A framework of regulation and good practice to support a sustained return to international travel is becoming clearer. At the end of May, the OECD published its initiative for safe international mobility (ETOA was closely involved in consultation stages). In the last few weeks, the Brussels machinery has focused on lifting travel restrictions within the EU, with the Council’s recommendations on topic published on 14th June. Of note, it suggests that members states could accept visitors who have only received one of a two-dose vaccination. This reflects the political will to restore freedom of movement within the bloc. It is supported by formal approval of the regulation for the EU Digital COVID certificate, which will be in force from 1st July. While technically there is a six-week implementation period for member states, some have already started to issue: more information here including FAQs on the certificate.
Meanwhile, both EU non-EU states continue to press ahead with independent arrangements permitting third country nationals to enter: arriving no earlier than 14 days after completing vaccination course usually the minimum criterion for double dose vaccines. Requirements may differ for Janssen single dose vaccine and also travellers who have previously had COVID-19. Problems persist, especially the fragmentation in policy between member states affecting both business and consumer confidence, and in the use of self-isolation and quarantine even for vaccinated travellers. These government-imposed actions cause continued unnecessary harm to the valuable inbound industry: domestic tourism will not offset the loss of high-spending long-haul visitors to Europe’s cities. More information in border protocols below.
Tax and Tourism
Germany ETOA has launched a survey to assess the impact of Germany’s proposed change in VAT treatment from 1st January 2022. If your company is based outside the EU and buys EU product, please participate (click on link below). We know some operators have already stopped pricing German product due to the uncertainty, but we urgently need much more evidence to support our lobbying effort. For more information on our current understanding of the issues, see our TOMS page.
Variable VAT rates within the EU The EU’s economic and financial affairs council composed of finance and budget ministers, Econfin, recently published a paper disclosing likely policy direction on VAT rates. The tourism industry had hoped for movement towards more reduced and zero-rated services; this was not supported. Member States also did not support the Commission’s proposal to agree a list of products and services to which reduced rates could not apply (currently the reverse is true: reduced rates may only be applied to products and services on an agreed list). Amidst the technicalities, it is worth noting that the Commission’s approach is ahead of member states in its support of intelligent simplification, and illustrates the continued political challenge presented by VAT reform.
As previously announced, the EU has published its latest guide to funding available for tourism.
Mapping Climate Action in the Tourism Industry
The UNWTO is inviting public and private stakeholders from around the world to take part in a Global Survey of Climate Action in Tourism and help identify initiatives and opportunities to accelerate climate action in tourism: press release here. The survey was developed in collaboration with industry and academic bodies, also ETOA’s climate action partner, Tourism Declares A Climate Emergency (ETOA had an opportunity to comment on the survey questions). This initiative is consistent with our intention to provide tools and information to support members developing their climate action plans, to identify good practice and push for common metrics. The survey closes on 15th July, and can be accessed here.
More European countries are re-opening to visitors from within the EU/Europe and outside Europe. In particular many EU member states have removed (or are planning to remove) quarantine/self-isolation requirements for fully vaccinated travellers following the European Council’s updated recommendation last month on non-essential travel to the EU. However, fragmentation in policy still exists with some member states requiring a negative test for fully vaccinated travellers depending on origin country. Children who are unable to be vaccinated because of age are in many cases being allowed to travel with their fully vaccinated parents with a negative test.
We are preparing a new resource outlining border protocols for arrivals to EU and non-EU European countries. This will be published on our Coronavirus resources page in the next 2 weeks and will be communicated in our next newsletter on 1st July.
Iceland has announced that current border protocols will continue until 1st July. This means that non-fully vaccinated travellers from within the EU and non-EU are subject to a 5 day quarantine. Fully vaccinated travellers are subject to a free PCR test on arrival and required to quarantine for up to 24 hours while waiting for result. From 1st July, the fully vaccinated will no longer be subject to a test on arrival, likewise children born from 2005 on. From mid-July, the Icelandic Government will re-assess requirements for non-fully vaccinated travellers.
Switzerland has announced it will not require a negative test for arrivals from the USA who are fully vaccinated (this is still subject to formal ratification on 23rd June). Fully vaccinated travellers from other countries are also expected to be allowed entry and would not be subject to quarantine as long as not from the Swiss Government’s list for risk country with a variant of concern.
Island of Ireland: Following the Irish Government’s plan for international travel from 19th July, we have been receiving questions from operators as to effect on island of Ireland tours. Currently, the Northern Ireland Executive follow the UK Government’s traffic light system (see UK below). Thus, while fully vaccinated travellers are expected to be allowed into Republic of Ireland without testing or quarantine from 19th July, arrivals into Northern Ireland (including fully vaccinated) would require a day 2 PCR test and arrive from a ‘green’ list country to avoid quarantine. While there are no land border controls, our understanding is the requirements also apply to arrivals into Northern Ireland from Republic of Ireland unless the traveller has been in Republic of Ireland for 10 days beforehand. We are in contact with Irish tourism and travel associations who are lobbying the Northern Ireland Executive for a co-ordinated approach with the Irish Government on international travel and we will provide updates accordingly.
United Kingdom: The first formal review of the UK Government’s traffic light system (that all UK nations are currently following) affecting travel outside the Common Travel Area will take place before 28th June. The review will potentially assess current testing requirements such as the day 2 PCR test on arrival and whether fully vaccinated travellers should be subject to different testing or self-isolation requirements depending on origin country. At the same time, the ‘green list’ will be reviewed. The next formal review is expected by end of July.
Please continue to contact us with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brexit and the travel industry
Goods: One of the latest updates on our post-transition page includes a UK Government communication pack for travelling with goods to and from the UK (including distinguishing changes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland). Further information can also be found in our Goods section on travelling with meat and diary products and VAT Retail Export Scheme ‘tax free shopping’. The VAT Retail Export Scheme has ended in Great Britain from 1 January 2021 but is still available in Northern Ireland as long as not travelling directly to Great Britain after purchase.
Please note travellers bringing goods into Great Britain from outside the UK have a personal allowance of up to £390 tax free for non-alcohol/non-tobacco products (£270 if arriving by private plane or private boat). Customs requirements for travelling with goods between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland (and other EU states) remain unaffected by Brexit due to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Destinations and Attractions
Operational information needed
How many people are in a ‘small’ group permitted access under current site restrictions? These and other questions continue to vex operators trying to determine what is possible when tours are back on the road. Some attractions are subject to local regulation, others national: the mechanics for booking, ticketing and visiting while assuring client and staff safety are challenging; accurate information is hard to find without case-by-case inquiry. If you are aware of reliable resources we should share, please let us know at email@example.com
Registration for the Global European Marketplace + Relaunch ’22 is open, combining our flagship in-person event in London on 29th October with an online workshop on 30th November to maximise opportunity for member suppliers and buyers alike.
ETOA Travel Trade Masterclass
Next month, we are piloting a new initiative: a one-hour masterclass delivered in Italian and co-marketed by regional DMOs to their supply chains, featuring insight from three of ETOA’s buyer members. The purpose is to raise awareness of the range of business the travel trade brings, and explore mutual benefit. Demand for famous cities remains strong, but product interest within them is diversifying. More small-group business is expected. Safety protocols must be met. While multi-country survey tours remain a staple of long-haul travel, slower one-country tours are developing. Many businesses, especially small independent hotels and attractions, have very limited resources for client research, marketing or promotion. The masterclass is a chance to learn more about ETOA’s rapidly growing buyer membership, and the commercial opportunity it presents.
We intend to offer Masterclasses in other languages. For DMOs and NTOs interested in collaborating with ETOA to develop the supply-chain’s industry knowledge and encourage product diversification, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Any contractors, product development specialists or others willing to add their insight on behalf of the wider buyer membership (and potentially have exposure to a new range of suppliers) are also invited to get in touch.
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