City tourism: Operators Update

September 2018



Package Travel Regulation

The European Tourism Association AISBL, ETOA’s Belgian entity, has been appointed to the European Commission’s Stakeholder Expert Group whose first meeting is 17th September. Later this year we will conduct a survey to evaluate market awareness of the material changes in the new regulations, and the effect these might have on cross-border trade and product innovation. Meanwhile, members with specific comments as to the implementation of the new regulations are encouraged to contact Tim.

Operations and Destination Engagement at ETOA

Please welcome Sofie Jensen, who has been appointed ETOA’s new Head of Operations and Destination Engagement. She started on September 3rd, and will be joined by Simon Smith on September 20th. This reflects planned growth in ETOA’s policy and non-commercial activity. Between them, Sofie and Simon will work closely with our buyer membership, destinations and research partners. We aim to improve our knowledge of buyers’ businesses so we can represent their interests better, champion the value of intermediation, and provide relevant, actionable information. Linda Haydon, our Group Tourism Manager, will leave that role in October; her last day will be the 16th. We are very pleased that ETOA will continue to benefit from her meticulous work and wide experience as she will remain active in a consulting capacity.

Tour guiding

Re-regulation – could it happen? There are worrying signs that the Czech Republic may reconsider its decision several years ago to deregulate guiding. This would be the first time an EU state would re-regulate guiding; a worrying development for those who support free markets for services. Since deregulation, product innovation has thrived; consumer choice had widened as a range of value-adding guiding services have evolved. With that came competition, which has driven up quality. Accompanying tour guides have been free to speak to clients in public. In Prague,  restrictions have recently been introduced on walking tour providers. Ironically, this has led to dangerous overcrowding at official pick-up points where clients often find themselves pushed into the road. ETOA advocates smart city management and enforcement of existing law to curb illicit activity. There are reports that both city and national authorities see new regulation as an option. In the absence of any published evidence of due process, where economic and consumer impact have been properly considered and relevant stakeholders consulted, this is likely to become highly
contentious. We are seeking clarification from both Czech and Prague authorities and will keep you informed. Meanwhile, please report any issues you are experiencing to our new team email address:

Freedom of movement post Brexit. The possible implications on the provision of guiding services should the UK leave the EU are causing concern. We will continue to monitor guidance material from EU and UK for any clarification. Rights arising from EU citizenship to provide services on a temporary and occasional basis are in question. Continuity of service provision, from consumer, industry and professional perspective, is highly desirable. The UK is a valuable source market for continental Europe. ETOA will continue to press for open market access from EU to UK and UK to EU in the interests of the intra-European trade that makes up about 83% of Europe’s international arrivals. The process and documentation of Tour Guide ID Cards is
under review to ensure they are fit for purpose; apologies to those who have experienced delay. Over 1800 cards were issued this year, which represents a strong endorsement of the scheme’s utility. Please continue to report instances where guides who have made appropriate prior declarations are subject to official interference.

Visa policy and market survey

Thank you to those who have completed our visa survey related to Schengen and UK/Ireland visa facilitation for China and India outbound, and Europe incoming business for those markets. Its results will be revealed at our Summit in Lucerne on 9th October, and addressed by the Chair of the European Parliament’s Tourism Task Force, István Ujhelyi, MEP. The more operators that contribute, the greater the weight that will be given to the results. This is an opportunity to influence regulation when it is under active review. If you would still like to complete the survey, or know someone who should, please use the following links: China outbound; India outbound; Europe inbound.
Response deadline: 16th September.

Destinations and attractions


Amsterdam and Barcelona working groups

We intend to hold the first meeting of these working groups later this year. Both have as background increased anti-tourism sentiment. Part of ETOA’s role is to address the prejudice and misconceptions related to the business brought by the travel trade. If you have specific operational concerns beyond the following, please contact Sofie. Amsterdam: access to central area by coach; group size of walking tours in RLD; tour guide registration. Barcelona: ticketing for main attractions and related access.


As above, restrictions on walking tour provision have been introduced within Praha 1. ETOA is seeking dialogue with city authorities, with limited success to date. If members have any direct contacts, please advise.


The working group will reconvene in November. If you have any operations issues you would like us to address, please contact Aliya.


ETOA’s impact survey on the possible effect of new coach access arrangements in Rome shows that group tourism would decline within the restricted area. While some hoteliers have been vocal in their opposition to such moves, others have not, considering that FIT and MICE demand will remain robust, though MICE business often depends on coach operations. The practical details of the new scheme’s operations are still uncertain. We will provide any information as soon as we have it.

Distribution list

We can send these operational updates to anyone in our database: are we sending them to the right people in your company so colleagues don’t miss out on useful information without it being forwarded? If you did not receive this message directly and would like to be added to the distribution list please click here. If you would like us to add colleagues, please email Sofie with their details.


Details of ETOA’s upcoming events are here, including a seminar in Seville on 27th September, and the Summit in the Alps on 9th October. It is still possible to sign up for both. GEM promises to be bigger than ever with a wide range of new suppliers seeking new channels to market. On the morning of 1st November we will run our AGM at the Mermaid Theatre in London. Official invitations will be issued in due course. To express interest, please click here.

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