City tourism: Operators Update

January 2018

This newsletter contains updates on proposed tax increase in Amsterdam, an update on upcoming guiding regulations (Amsterdam and Brussels), potential delay to the Venice tax for day visitors, Vatican and Louvre ticketing changes amongst other updates.

ETOA will hold its yearly event Summit in the Alps in Lucerne on 01 October 2019. This year’s focus is Tourism in Transition and we will hear from destination experts, academics and origin market specialists. New for this year’s event will be an expertled interactive workshop designed to develop actionable policy and business ideas that will support a strategic shift to more sustainable tourism. With a new European Parliament developing its work programme, and a new Commission to be formed later this year, we will be joined by two MEPs who will be speaking in the morning session.



Updates on guidance will be published on our page here. Please keep checking this page regularly and if you have any specific questions please contact us.

ETOA’s policy priorities for 2020 and online materials

Each year we review our policy priorities to ensure we are working on topics and destinations that make most sense for members. For destinations, relevant factors are usually a combination of volume and operational challenges; for EU regulation, their impact on European competitiveness and the business environment for tourism; currently: Visas; Tax and TOMS; Package Travel; Brexit. Sustainability cuts across all policy work, from product development and diversification to public sentiment towards tourism; tax policy to climate change.

Current website plans include new web content for the UK (London and Edinburgh); Germany (Berlin and Munich); add Florence and Venice to the Italy page, and Madrid to the Spain page. The tourism tax page will continue to be updated. To our current set of working groups (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Group Tourism) we will add groups for Coach Transport, Iberia (for both Spain and Portugal), and London. We previously identified four attractions that were most problematic to operators: Alhambra; Colosseum; Sagrada Familia; Vatican Museums. While we have developed relationships and improved understanding at all four, operational challenges remain. Member engagement across Europe has been invaluable. We are especially appreciative of colleagues in the working groups who share knowledge and help keep us up-to-date. If you have any questions or suggestions about ETOA’s policy priorities and related activity, or want to make sure we’re aware of any operational issues you’re facing, please email us at



Brussels – guiding: We understand that VisitBrussels (an ETOA member) is exploring options for an accreditation plan for guides conducting walking tours in Brussels. This plan has not yet been addressed by local government and may prove problematic as guiding is not a regulated profession in Belgium, and professional regulation remains a national competence. Our understanding is that the intention is not to limit group size, but to focus on the quality of the guiding. Whether scope could include orientation tours as part of a multi-day tour is unclear, as is the legal basis for any distinction unless it relates to commercial activity, e.g. making a sale in Brussels. We are seeking clarification with local stakeholders, including the tourism board, particularly in respect of any reported harm or consumer detriment.


Paris – RATP metro fines: Increased ticketing controls has been reported on the Parisian metro lines, with ticket officers telling visitors their fine will increase from €50 to €180 if they do not pay the fine immediately. This is not correct, click here to view the time-frame of fine increases (in French). If visitors have been fined due to valid but demagnetized tickets, they can contact RATP to complain.

Paris – Louvre: It has been reported that queues for entering the Louvre without a pre-booking are currently long and visitors may not be able to enter without a ticket. It is advised to pre-book. Furthermore, it is our understanding that the Louvre is considering moving away from selling any tickets on-site. We are following the case closely and will inform members via our website if this will be introduced and when.


Since the August Operators Update, we have continued to receive reports from members regarding their tour guides being approached and checked if they can prove they have the right to guide. To minimise the risk of being fined, we advise all members conducting tours in Italy to read our guiding legislation for Italy carefully. If a guide has been approached or fined, please contact us.

Pisa – Trenino shuttle service: Our understanding is that Comune di Pisa has made a new regulation starting 01 October 2019 forcing the small private shuttle ‘trains’ to take a longer route via Piazza dei Miracoli instead of the direct route to the city centre. The return journey should not be affected. This new regulation may force the private train shuttle operators to increase their rates for the transfers. We are seeking clarification with the authorities. Updates will be made on our Italy page.

Rome – police checks: Due to the New Urban Police Regulations, members have reported that contracted guides providing pre-booked guided tours of the Colosseum are being approached outside the Colosseum by the local police to check that they have not sold the tickets on the street. The police may request a list of participants for proof. We recommend members to carry necessary paperwork with them to avoid unnecessary disruption to the tour.

Rome – Vatican group limits: Musei Vaticani has announced new booking procedures effective 04 September 2019 which will apply to all group visits from 04 November 2019 onwards. Group numbers will be reduced to maximum 37. A 20% flexibility on top of the 37 tickets has been confirmed by the Vatican, excluding guide.

Venice – tourist tax for day visitors: As reported last month, the new ‘landing contribution’ starting date has been postponed from 01 September 2019 to 01 January 2020. The original proposal is subject to revision with any changes expected to be announced in October 2019. We understand a further delay to the start date is possible. The tourist tax for overnight visitors (tassa/imposta di soggiorno) remains unaffected.


Amsterdam – ETOA 30th Anniversary drinks reception:

We are celebrating our anniversary with members and industry partners in Amsterdam on 03 September 2019, more information here. Spaces are limited, please contact to register.


Amsterdam – guiding: The previously announced proposed regulation of guided tours in Amsterdam City Centre has been delayed and is intended to come into force 01 April 2020 instead of 01 January 2020. Press release here. The plan is still under consultation as has not yet been confirmed. More information on our Amsterdam page.

Amsterdam – VRM tax: The VRM tax (entertainment tax for city sightseeing bus tours and canal cruises inside the city) will likely increase from €0.66 to €1.50 from 01 January 2020. The City Council are expected to approve the measure in autumn 2019. Furthermore, the VRM may become applicable for other types of guided tours of the city, i.e. walking tours, from 2020. Press release here. We are seeking clarification on the exact definition on what type of guiding is applicable for the VRM may be, the current definition is “if your business offers commercial entertainment or recreation in public spaces”.


Barcelona – security: Following the interim update 23 August, we are still awaiting more information from Barcelona. We will update our Barcelona page when possible.

Girona – Parking update: Costa Brava tourist board has advised that the Girona city hall is not planning to make any changes to the new parking arrangements at present, but they are collecting complaints and concerns. If you would like to hear more or get involved, please contact Joanne Cadier.

United Kingdom

London – ETOA Tour Operators 30th anniversary drinks reception: We are celebrating our 30th anniversary for Tour Operators at The Banqueting House in London on 05 September 18:30-20:30. If you would like to attend, please contact James Rolfe.

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