City tourism: Operators Update

October 2019

This month’s newsletter includes important information about guiding in Italy, proposed coach plans and tourism tax increase in Amsterdam and security in Barcelona.

Applications for ETOA’s Tour Guide ID cards 2019 season (validity until 31 March 2020) will close on 14 October. Urgent applications and reprints will still be possible if requested. Click here for more information. The applications for the 2020 season will open in January. If you would like to receive specific emails regarding the Tour Guide ID cards or if your company has not been set up, please contact Giuseppe on


If you are interested in ETOA’s policy and lobbying activities, we have just publisheda new page on our website updating members on recent activities.

Lucerne – Summit in the Alps

Over a hundred delegates met this week in Lucerne for ETOA’s annual policy summit ‘Tourism in Transition.’ Content highlights included keynote presentation ‘Transcending Tourism’ from Signe Jungersted of NAO; insights from the European Travel Commission (ETC), Dutch, Swiss and UK national tourism organisations, and the Canary Islands; academic and commercial insights into marketing and sustainability. New for this year was a workshop facilitated by CELTH, an academic research hub specialising in sustainable tourism. CELTH, together with ETC and NECSTouR, are part of ETOA’s partnership on sustainable tourism. Delegates developed actionable strategies for climate-friendly travel and tackling overtourism. Workshop outputs, together with presentations, will be shared in due course. Many thanks to our long-term partners Lucerne Tourism and Switzerland Tourism for the generous support.


During the last month, communications have increased from the UK Government as part of their new campaign ‘Get Ready for Brexit’. We have digested this information applicable to travel and the tourism sector and our webpage will have updates published later today. In September, we also met with Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover on their preparations. Both have invested in new infrastructure and a lot of planning has taken place between the UK Government, Kent County Council, Highways England and other stakeholders such as the haulage sector on contingency plans for possible delays from new customs procedures. Further information can be found on our webpage.

As the UK’s departure date from the EU is later this month (unless Article 50 is extended), please keep checking the webpage for updates (does not require member login and can be shared with interested parties). Please continue to contact with questions you may have.

Tourism Taxes

During October, rates for all destinations will be reviewed and if announced rates for 2020 will be listed too on the webpages. To view the country pages requires member login so if you have any difficulties, please contact Please see below for information about Amsterdam in 2020.


Our destination pages, which provide members with practical and up-to-date operational information on various topics, now include information on nine additional destinations:
United Kingdom, including Edinburgh and London
Germany, including Berlin and Munich
Florence and Venice

We would appreciate you feedback. If you have ideas to additional content or comments about current content, please contact


Bruges – tourism strategy: Visit Bruges has recently released their Strategic vision memorandum tourism 2019-2024. We are in contact to understand which operational changes this may bring to visitors and will update members with any development. Of specific interest is the action plan page 14-16.


Guiding in Italy: Following the recent change in government, the tourism ministry no longer falls under the Ministero delle politiche agricole alimentari e forestali but is back under the Ministero dei beni Culturali e del Turismo. We have been in contact to understand if there will be any changes to the Dichiarazione Preventiva. It has been  confirmed that until further notice the procedure remains the same. We will monitor the situation.

Furthermore, we have received reports that tour guides are being approached in the Cinque Terre region by the local law enforcement authorities to check if they have the correct documentation to lead groups. More information about guiding in Italy here.

Rome – tourism strategy: The next Futouroma 2019-2024 town hall presentation will be held on 13 November 2019 in Rome. The event will be held in Italian. Click here to read more about venue and registration.

Rome – Vatican: As mentioned in previous communication, Vatican will limit group numbers to 37 pax (still providing the +20% flexibility) from 04 November 2019. Operators are experiencing that the online booking system has changed, only allowing to book up to 37 pax for the months of September and October as well. We have been in contact with the museum and this is a glitch in their system. If you wish to book groups for up to 50 pax for this period, please contact the museum directly.


We note that despite recent news reports neither the guiding regulation for April 2020, the VRM cost/application nor the overnight tax have been 100% confirmed. VMR and overnight tax are likely to be confirmed in November. Guiding regulation in beginning of 2020. We continue to monitor the situation, more information below.

Amsterdam – guiding: The Gemeente (City Hall) has confirmed that the proposed tightened regulation of guiding in Amsterdam from 01 April 2020 will be under consultation from 15 October to 15 November 2019 with an information meeting held 29 October. Learn more here.

Amsterdam – coach plan: 03 October the Gemeente released their new strategic coach policy agenda 2020- 2025 for consultation. They have included a foreword and summary in English on page 38-39 explaining eight key steps in their plan, the rest is in Dutch. The consultation ends 19 November 2019. Members are strongly encouraged to contribute. We will analyse the plan and update our Amsterdam page with more information as soon as possible.

Amsterdam – tourism taxes: The Gemeente has announced an increase in tax for persons staying overnight in the city from 1 January 2020 here. The rate of €3 per person per night for hotels is to be added to 7% of the cost of the room. Furthermore, the vermakelijkhedenretributie (VMR) applicable to passengers on sightseeing canal boat and bus tours is expected to increase to €1.50 per person from 1 January 2020.

As noted above, the 2020 rates have not been formally approved although we understand this is likely to occur in November. This has generated media interest and we have commented in a CNN article here. (FYI it is uncertain whether under 16s will be exempt from the levy and the ban on guided tours is proposed from April 2020 delayed from January 2020).


Barcelona – security: The City Hall (Ajuntament de Barcelona) has released a statement regarding latest report on security in the city. Please click here to read it.

United Kingdom

Bath, England – clean air zone: The city council has launched their final consultation (open until 20 October 2019) on a clean air zone to be introduced late 2020. The zone is to cover the city centre. Coaches would need to be Euro VI (6) to enter the zone or pay a £100 daily charge. Further details on the zone and responding to the consultation can be found here.

Scotland – tourism taxes: The national government has launched a consultation here on the principles of a local discretionary transient visitor levy or tourist tax on visitors staying overnight (open until 2 December 2019). While not confirmed, we understand local authorities are to be given the power to implement a tax should they wish during an Act of Parliament in 2020. Therefore, due to legislative process, a local council could not implement a tax until late 2020 at the earliest. Currently, only Edinburgh have said they wish to implement a tax. The Highland Council is discussing the merits of a tourist tax (consultation open until 20 October 2019 here) but have yet to make a decision.

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