Destination and Policy Update

October 2020


European Tourism Convention

More information about the convention, which takes place on Monday, here. ETOA will participate in the morning workshop on ‘Strengthened cooperation and coordination for improving seamless and safe tourism’, so is well placed to bring industry priorities to the session. We will continue to push for coordination on travel restrictions and protocols, better insurance options, and more travel-trade-readiness in destination. Workshop discussion document available here. Any further member input welcome by end of 9 October at

Financial protection and support

ETOA recently submitted a detailed contribution to the European Commission team that is reviewing Package Travel regulation. Together with partners in the European Tourism Manifesto, we are lobbying EU national governments to ensure tourism forms part of their recovery plans. Before any structural funds kick in, industry need continuous support: we argue strongly for that at EU and national levels. Tourism is a valuable engine for growth across all parts of the economy once recovery comes.


While short-term survival remains industry’s primary concern, a transition to a greener more digital economy is the central purpose of the EU budget starting in 2021, as well as the EU’s Resilience and Recovery Facility, React EU and other funding mechanisms. Respondents to ETOA’s survey indicated that more information about climate change mitigation would be useful. There will be a sustainability webinar Carbon Curious? Climate action and tourism on 22 October with expert panel including ETOA tour operator member Intrepid, and our new industry partner, Fair Climate Fund. For more information, click here.


The ninth and final formal round of negotiations between European Commission and UK Government finished last week but after a call between the President of the European Commission and UK Prime Minister discussions will continue ahead of the EU Council meeting on 15 October. We will update members when negotiations conclude. Regardless of a trade agreement, changes will occur following the end of transition period on 31 December 2020. For instance, the UK Government today announced an update to their Border Operating Model from 1 January 2021. Items of note include:

  • Pages 23-35: Border and traffic management infrastructure mainly affecting hauliers but includes possible contraflow arrangement on the M20 between junctions 8 and 9 if required.
  • Page 258: The ending of the VAT Retail Export Scheme on 31 December 2020. Industry is currently lobbying for UK Government to change their decision.
  • Page 259: Passengers travelling from the EU to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) may continue to carry food items containing meat and dairy from the EU from 1 January 2021 until July 2021, when controls will be put in place at GB passenger hubs.
  • Page 261: EU I.D cards will stop being accepted at the UK border for EU nationals not covered by EU Settlement Scheme (e.g. visitors) from 1 October 2021. A passport will be required and if biometric e-gates can still be used by EU nationals.
  • Page 261: UK Government will introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme as part of plans to ensure that all those coming to the UK have permission to do so in advance of travel (similar to USA ESTA and EU ETIAS). Further details of these arrangements will be provided in due course.

Further information on travel related topics can be found on our Brexit post transition page.

Intra-European demand

Our partners ETC have just published new research on intra-European demand: over 50% of respondents intending to travel within 6 months, mostly inside Europe; fear of quarantine is more of a deterrent than the virus. More on border restrictions below.


Border restrictions

The EU General Affairs Council is meeting next week to discuss European Commission proposal for a common approach to travel measures by member states. Border restrictions remain a matter of competence for national governments but it is hoped by using common criteria (i.e. colour code map) member states will adopt the same decision with regards to any border restrictions required. For the latest on travel restrictions, please see our resources page which includes the EU’s Re-Open EU map covering EU27 and EFTA states.

In the United Kingdom, the UK Government has announced the formation of a Global Travel Taskforce to facilitate recovery of international travel. This will include looking at the feasibility of proposals based on a single test taken after a period of self-isolation, provided by the private sector and at the cost of the traveller. The taskforce will report to the UK Prime Minister early November. In the meantime, the current quarantine and travel corridor policy will remain in place with weekly review of travel corridor list.


The Tourism Recovery Taskforce has published its report to the Irish Government recommending a range of measures to help the Irish tourism industry survive and recover from COVID-19 for the next 3 years. The Irish Government are currently considering the measures recommended in the report and the Irish Budget is due to be announced next Tuesday 13 October. Businesses based in Northern Ireland can apply for support from the Business And Financial Planning Support programme 2020-2021 here. Please see our Ireland section on our resources page for links to the latest on restrictions affecting domestic and international travel.


Rome – Colosseum: We have been informed that while Covid-vouchers are valid up until 31 December 2021, they must be used for the same ticket and entry type as they were initially bought for. More information on our Rome page.


Amsterdam – Coach Plan: On 30 September 2020, the city council adopted the coach plan previously reported which can be found on our Amsterdam destination page. We contributed to the consultation and prior to COVID-19 our Amsterdam working group met with the transport department from the Gemeente.


Granada – Alhambra: Alhambra has refunded bookings from March to June when the attraction was closed. They are currently refusing to refund bookings after June, despite most groups not being able to visit. We are fully aware of the frustration and difficulties this policy is causing among Tour Operators, and are still trying to communicate with Alhambra to see if there is any possibility of finding a solution, i.e., using the money paid as a credit towards future use by other groups. Read more about Alhambra here.

Barcelona – surcharge (tourism tax): Barcelona City Council have agreed to introduce the surcharge from 1 January 2021. This is a tourism tax applicable to the city of Barcelona only and in addition to the existing regional tourism tax payable to Catalonia regional government. Further information including rate can be found on our Spain tourist tax page.

United Kingdom

Wales – COVID-19 local lockdown restrictions: The Welsh Government has announced more local lockdowns that restrict people from entering or leaving the areas concerned without a reasonable excuse – such as travel for work or education – and thus affects tourism. Transiting through local lockdown areas is allowed. This is different to current local lockdown policy in England. We are in contact with Visit Wales who can also be contacted here (please copy in Visit Wales has published a webpage for travel trade which includes the ‘rule of six’ restrictions applicable nationwide. Fuller guidance and FAQs for hospitality and retail are also available.

Destination and Policy update

 Receive the latest news on operational developments in destinations across Europe



This content is exclusive to ETOA members

Login here to access it now


Forgot your password?

Not a member yet?


The ETOA membership opens invaluable networking opportunities to your business, allows you to gain access to critical insights and information and contributes to the campaign for a better regulatory environment in Europe.

  • Connect with the global travel trade
  • Stay informed of insights, regulations and changes
  • Be supported in shaping the tourism landscape
Enquiry now