City tourism: Operators Update

October 2018



Thank you to all those who completed the survey. The response supports ETOA’s position that the indirect cost of obtaining visas – especially for first-time visitors – together with inconsistencies and difficulties presented by requirements for documentary support, have a significant deterrent effect, and thus cause economic loss to Europe. We will present preliminary findings at the Lucerne summit on 9th October.


We are in contact with Edinburgh Council in connection with a proposed city tax; more details below. The possible impact of Brexit on UK members’ tax position will be among the topics covered at an event on 29th October; details to follow.

Package Travel

ETOA participated in an expert stakeholder group at the European Commission on 17th September, whose purpose is to review implementation of the 2015 Package Travel Directive (PTD) that came into force in July this year. The main focus was on assessing market understanding and impact of ‘linked travel arrangements’, whose definition continues to cause difficulty.


A wide-ranging briefing from the perspective of UK business is being arranged for 29th October. Details of timing and venue will be published shortly. The scope for fundamental change to the regulatory and fiscal arrangements for our UK members is very significant and requires detailed discussion. ETOA will continue to assess the potential impact on the UK’s European partners given its significance as both source market and destination; we will arrange other briefings for those. While turbulence in the current political climate in the UK is such that predicting likely outcomes is
unproductive, and in ETOA’s view often insufficiently informed by the EU’s  perspective, the consensus of risk assessment suggests that a ‘no-deal’ outcome
would cause unmanageable difficulty and delay at border crossings. We will continue to direct policy-makers’ attention to practical consequences.

Policy priorities

We have produced a new summary of ETOA’s main policy priorities, available here.

DESTINATIONS – ETOA’s website will be changing over the next few months and have an area dedicated to European destinations. This will include updated information about city taxes, coach access and other practical matters. If you would like to have some input on how we prioritise and present information, or have other ideas on content and functionality please contact us.


Members may have seen reports that there will be a hotel tax in Edinburgh of £2 a night. While this is probable it is not yet certain. Assuming the city council formally approve the plan in early October, there will be a consultation period until the end of the year; ETOA will participate and are in direct dialogue with the council leadership. Echoing principles that ETOA have proposed, despite less notice than desirable, the stated intention is that the plan should be: fair to industry, residents and tourists; simple to understand and run; administratively efficient and difficult to avoid;
transparently invested, with transparent governance and accountability.
Note: If the plan is approved, at the end of the consultation period the final proposal complete with implementation plan will be sent to Scotland’s national government for consideration. Before any scheme goes into operation, the national government would first have to give Edinburgh council the power to impose and collect the tax. It is not yet known how long the process of obtaining national approval may take. We will follow the situation closely.


On September 25th we attended the monitoring group convened by the Board of the Alhambra and Generalife. No new information or plans were announced but dialogue continues with CEAV, the Travel Association of Andalusia, the Travel Association of Granada and the Federation of Granada, and other ‘local actors’. ETOA will vigorously represent the interests of its members and partners in the ongoing discussions. The intention is that this should be a forum through which management solutions to high demand and ticketing processes can be reached.


It is likely that the ‘car free day’ scheme will extend to include arrondissements 1,2,3 and 4 on Sunday 7th October, and the first Sunday of the month thereafter. Main roads are expected to remain open, but details are lacking. Some information is available here and further information will be provided as soon as received.


Thank you to various members and local partners who have helped us to triangulate current understandings among public and private sector. While we have received responses to recent communication with the city authorities in Rome, we have no  concrete information as to the implementation date or operational mechanics of the proposed coach access scheme. We expect to know more following a meeting in Rome on 10th October. Details of the plan should be published here.


Leeds – On 24th September we presented on Brexit to CITO, a consortium of independent UK tour operators, at their autumn meeting in Leeds. We outlined the current negotiation process from a European Perspective and possible implications in March / April 2019 such as the loss of UK-based businesses’ eligibility for TOMS (Tour Operators Margin Scheme), and cross border delays. The UK’s Package Travel Regulations 2018 were also discussed.

Lisbon – ETOA participated in a panel on the value of tourism chaired by Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar MEP as part of an event organised by the Portuguese confederation of tourism. More information here.

Seville – On 27th September we organised a ‘Cultural Tourism and Sustainability’ seminar to celebrate World Tourism Day, an event in which the City Council of Seville and Seville Tourism Consortium collaborated. 50 participants from public and private sector attended discussing product innovation and promoting awareness of lesser known attractions to help with the problem of capacity management.

Barcelona – On 3rd October, ETOA will be moderating an event at La Pedrera run by Musement on the digitalisation of the tourism sector. More information here.

Lucerne – On 9th October, we are looking forward to greeting delegates at this year’s tourism summit. We will be running Slido polls during the day.

Brussels – On 10th October we are speaking at a ‘Tourism of Tomorrow’ reception, and on the 11th moderating two round-table sessions about local tourism initiatives run by our partners NECSTouR and the Xunta of Galicia, part of the 2018 European Week of Regions and Cities.

TTG Rimini – 10th to 12th October – please look out for us at stand Pav A7, booth 038-043. If you want to get in touch, please contact Sofie.

Global European Marketplace (GEM) – We look forward to seeing you at GEM on 2nd November. If you would like to meet the operations and destination engagement team at GEM or WTM, please click here.

More information about ETOA events is available at

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