City tourism: Operators Update

November 2019

This newsletter contains important information about parking in Rome, Venice day tax and Amsterdam overnight and entertainment tax.

In November we will run several of our local working groups in Paris, Barcelona and Rome. The next Group Tourism working group meeting will be held on 27 November. Its purpose is to understand general operational and productional challenges for group tourism throughout European destinations. Throughout the years, attendees have continued to provide invaluable information which has shaped and steered ETOA’s policy work on a European, national and local level. Attendees can join in person or via a conference call. If you would like to hear more, please contact Sofie Jensen.

POLICY

Brexit

Following the EU’s decision to accede to the UK government’s request to postpone Brexit date up to 31 January 2020, and the UK’s decision to hold a general election on 12 December, formal parliamentary scrutiny of the current deal will be cut short until a new parliament is formed. Meanwhile, it is possible that guidance will continue to evolve; updates will be published here. ETOA is running a Brexit seminar on 31 October. Remote access is possible.

DESTINATIONS

France

Paris – public transport tickets: We have been informed that the magnetic paper tickets (t+) will be phased out in 2023. From June 2020 it will no longer be possible to purchase the 10-pack paper t+ carnets at the metro stations, but individual tickets will still be sold. More information here.

Paris – Louvre: Operators should note that admission without pre-booked tickets is not guaranteed. While a general system of obligatory reservation is contemplated there are no fixed plans for its implementation, nor will there be an increase in tariffs for at least the first ‘semester’ of 2020. We are pressing for further information. Prebooking is mandatory for the da Vinci exhibition running until 24 February 2020.

Netherlands

Amsterdam – guiding: The draft publication for a new proposed plan for guiding in Amsterdam from April 2020 as well as the consultation process has been postponed. We are in close contact with the Gemeente and will update our Amsterdam page when we have more information. Our understanding is that proposed regulations still haven’t been defined and will be discussed in the city hall in March 2020. When the consultation begins, ETOA will participate and we encourage all members bringing groups to Amsterdam to participate as well.

Guided tours may be subject to €1.50 pp VMR (entertainment tax) from 1 January 2020, the decision will be made on 6 November 2019. Some organisers of city tours in Amsterdam have received a letter and leaflet with information about the proposed collection process and exemption – this still leaves questions unanswered; we are seeking clarification and will provide more information when available.

Amsterdam – VMR and overnight tax: A decision on proposed €3 increase on hotel overnight tax and an increase on VMR tax (from €0.66 to €1.50) is expected on 6 November, following consultation. ETOA made a formal submission to the relevant committee drawing their attention to the industry concerns with current proposals. It is clear that there is political tension within government, with concerns expressed that Amsterdam is becoming seen as an expensive city. There is increasing recognition that the imposition of the €8 day tax on cruise ship visitors has been counterproductive due to vessel relocation to Ijmuiden and Rotterdam and consequent increase in road traffic to visit Amsterdam.

Amsterdam – Transport and access: Members are strongly encouraged to express their views on coach access via the feedback portal; submissions are accepted in English until 19 November. The Strategic Coach Policy Agenda 2020-2025 contains a summary in English on pages 38-39. We understand that officials would welcome more practical suggestions from industry. The political vision as expressed in October 2018 was very restrictive, foreseeing no tourist coaches within the A10 ring road in 2025. There is as yet no practical proposal as to how this might be achieved. Concerns include the fear of increased congestion from smaller vehicles, as well as access to centrally located hotels for group visitors with luggage. While the new north-south metro line provides new access options, a much more detailed plan is required for both day visitors to switch between private coaching and public transport, and a more rational proposal to enable access for groups with luggage.

Congestion and disruption will be a constant feature in parts of Amsterdam for the foreseeable future. The underground cycle park in front of Central Station and related development is not expected to be complete until 2023-2024. Long term, Amsterdam 850 bridges are being surveyed at a rate of c.20 a month. Many of them still contain wooden elements. Many will need repair. The kades running along the canals have also lacked maintenance in recent history. We learn that approx. €1billion may have  been allocated to fund repairs. Going by recent history of infrastructure projects, cost and time overruns are likely.

SAIL 2020: The dates for this 5-yearly festival have been announced 12-14 August 2020. Very high demand for accommodation during those dates and the period either side, as well as significant crowding, are expected. More information about other events is on the destination page.

Ireland

Some operators have reported that their contracted non-EU Tour Guides have had issues crossing the border into Ireland. Please contact policy@etoa.org if you have had similar experiences. Our understanding is that there are no changes in border force procedures, but we are following up with the Irish authorities to confirm.

Italy

Venice – landing contribution (day tax): Our current understanding is that the new tax (contributo di sbarco) will be delayed once more; this time until July 2020 at the earliest. We are seeking further clarification. Learn more here.

Venice – guiding: We have had reports of tour guides being approached in Venice by Italian Guardia di Finanza, no fines have been reported and the approaches appears to have been of a financial/administrative reason rather than being guiding specific. The ETOA Tour Guide ID card proved to be helpful. We advise all tour guides to carry the appropriate documents to avoid fines. More information here.

Florence – Accademia: We have been informed that the 2020 booking reservations for group are now open. For the low season (January, February, November and December) the maximum amount of pax per group is 25. For the rest of the year the number is 20 including the guide. For more information about Accademia, click here.

Rome – coach parking: On 24 October Roma Mobilita announced that a new parking ticket system will be introduced from 4 November 2019. Coach drivers will need to register their parking either via an app or a ticket machine. Our understanding is that there will not be any extra fees related to the registration process, except from the possibility to park for more than the current free three hours in the long-term parking areas, which will cost €100 per extra hour. More information here. We will update our Rome page when we have more information.

Rome – tourism strategy (Futouroma): The next city hall meeting about Rome’s tourism strategy will be held on 13 November 2019. ETOA will participate. More information on our Rome page.

Spain

Barcelona – Following recent demonstrations in the City and surrounding towns Ajuntament de Barcelona (city hall) released a statement about the current events and security in the city. Furthermore, the Barcelona Tourism Consortium has a call centre for tourists and visitors to answer any questions or incidents. This service is operational daily from 8am to Midnight and can answer queries in different languages. The telephone number is (+34) 93 285 3834. If necessary, the opening hours will be extended. Visitors can find links to updates on the current situation on our Barcelona page.

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