ETOA Policy Update | February 2023

Tourism in Transition: Promises, Promises


What will be most influential on the European economy’s transition to become more resilient and sustainable: voluntary action or regulation?

At an upcoming Consumer Summit in Brussels two “pledge-signing ceremonies will take place to celebrate the voluntary commitments of businesses to protect consumers and to promote sustainable consumption.” The EU’s Pact for Skills invites commitments from organisations across all sectors to support skills development, requiring annual updates of actions completed.

For tourism, last year the European Commission began to request pledges from private and public sector organisations to implement any one of 27 actions listed at the end of the Tourism Transition Pathway. During 2023, a user-friendly resource will be developed: a hub that will allow users to find good practice in action across a range of activities. Meanwhile, 142 organisations contributed pledges by last October, and the list will soon be updated (more information here).

On climate action, over 450 individuals and organisations have declared a climate emergency with Tourism Declares. Over 700 have signed the Glasgow Declaration which commits them to publish their progress. ETOA supports both initiatives and published a climate action plan.

Meanwhile, regulation still works. Rules on single-use plastics can be clearly defined and supply-chain compliance is easy: you cannot buy what is not sold. Revisions to existing regulation such as the EU’s Energy Taxation Directive, which proposes a tax on aviation fuel, are subject to much debate but the ultimate purpose is clear however we achieve it: cutting GHG emissions.

Pledge-making is public: out of caution, external commitments may not match the ambition of internal goals. It is also cumbersome, especially for most small businesses for whom such initiatives may remain nice rather than necessary. The overwhelming majority of the tourism ecosystem has not pledged an action in pursuit of sectoral transition. But all can benefit from access to good practice and that, together with better regulation, is what will drive change.

Tourism Careers

How to attract and keep talent within the visitor economy has become a hot topic post-pandemic. To build a better understanding of careers within the sector, and the transferrable skills its people acquire, our partner the European Travel Commission (ETC) together with University of Surrey, have launched a new survey. If you work in the sector and would like to take part, click here.

ETOA in Brussels

There are some places left for ETOA’s ‘Industry Day’ event in Brussels on 2nd March, starting at 14:00 CET, which will cover operational and strategic questions facing tourism in Europe today. For more information and registration, click here.

For ETOA members only, there is still time to register for our online General Assembly at 16:00 CET on March 1st via this link.

Climate Action

Last month, ETOA’s webinar Tourism in 2030: tough choices ahead featured a preview of forthcoming Travel Foundation research which models scenarios to keep tourism within national carbon budgets 2030-2050. Their analysis suggests that reducing the growth rate in aviation will be necessary. To receive a copy of their report, due to be published in early March, click here.

Visas and Borders

Entry/Exit Systems (EES), European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)

Further to last month’s Newsletter, revised start dates for EES and ETIAS are expected following the next management board meeting of the EU’s agency for managing large IT projects (eu-LISA) on 14-15 March 2023. Our Visas and Borders webpage will be updated accordingly.


UK Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)

An ETA is a pre-clearance permit that will be required by non-British/non-Irish visitors to the UK from countries whose citizens do not require a UK visa. For example, countries within EU/EFTA (excluding Ireland), Japan, the USA and Canada. Our latest understanding is that the UK Government intends to start implementation in Q4 this year. A phased rollout is expected, starting with GCC countries whose citizens currently require an electronic visa waiver.

Confirmation of ETA fee, validity period and any exemptions are expected soon. Updates will be published here.

At the end of last year, we hosted a webinar about Europe’s border formalities in 2023, which goes into the mechanics and practical issues in more detail. The recording is available here.

EU Tax and Regulation

VAT and Tourism

While feedback on last year’s consultation on a new EU-wide regulatory package for VAT and tourism is expected shortly, we now understand that the legislative schedule has slipped, with proposals now expected in 2024. To subscribe to official updates, click here.

While Germany once again suspended its plan to change treatment unilaterally, in principle they still intend to do so in 2024, so market uncertainty remains. Given the delay in the development of the EU proposals, we will follow the situation closely and publish any updates here.


​​​​Coach driving hours – Mobility Package 1

The European Commission is assessing whether driver rules should differ between freight and coach tourism services, with findings expected soon.

ETOA, together with IRU and ECTAA, have written to the Commission to request modifications to current coach driving and rest time rules (Mobility Package 1), emphasising the need to treat tourism services differently from long-haul freight, in the interests of cross-border product and competition, recognising the continued shortage of drivers, and without compromising safety. IRU research indicates that average daily driving time is approximately 4.5hrs for coach operators. The modifications requested include:

1. Give drivers on national tours the possibility to drive up to 12 consecutive days (currently this only applies to international itineraries).
2. Increase drivers’ permitted duty time to 16 hours twice a week. ​​​​​​
3. Introduce the possibility to split the 45-minute break into 3 intervals of minimum 15 minutes each. ​​​​​​
4. Ensure the safety and well-being of passengers by allowing rules to be ‘broken’ at driver’s discretion if exceptional circumstances cause delay (e.g. accidents, adverse weather), in order to minimise risk of passengers not reaching final destination in a safe and timely manner. ​​​​​​
5. Allow drivers to take the daily rest in three periods consisting of at least one uninterrupted period of one hour, one uninterrupted period of two hours, and one uninterrupted period of nine hours. ​​​​​​
6. Propose a longer reference period beyond the current three-weeks or introduce a derogation providing more flexibility, such as is already available to drivers in the international goods sector.

City access and tourism tax


Amsterdam intends to restrict coach access within the inner ring road (S100) from 1st January 2024. Official notification here (plus infographic of the new measures).

Coaches weighing more than 7.5 tonnes will only be able to access the Weesperstraat-Valkenburgerstraat-Kattenburgerstraat corridor within the S100, except when issued with an exemption permit.

There is no exemption for transferring clients with luggage to or from accommodation providers (except in special circumstances). Thus, in effect, the plan bans large group booking within the S100 not on/near the Weesperstraat-Valkenburgerstraat-Kattenburgerstraat corridor, unless other options such as minibuses, other private hire vehicles or public transport are used.

There is an exemption for transporting the following passengers to or from educational, cultural or arts institutions e.g. museums, theatres and zoos (notably, a tour, such as by canal boat, does not appear to count as a cultural visit, despite it showcasing a World Heritage Site):

  • Children up to 12 years of age
  • Elderly people from state pension age (67 years of age from 2024)
  • Disabled people

Other special circumstances may give rise to an exemption. Further information on exemptions can be found here. Depending on the route and time of day, permits may be limited. A permit may either be valid for one day or one year.

Until 1st March, comments on the plan can be submitted here. ETOA is gathering stakeholder input before making its own submission. For reference. ETOA’s previous submissions on the 2020-2025 plan and coaching are available via the links below:

For further information on the new coach measures (in English), click here.


The much delayed day-visitor tax (contributo di accesso) has once again been postponed for operational reasons. Accordingly to local reporting, its introduction is considered unlikely in 2023. Meanwhile, a €2.50 departure tax from Marco Polo airport is still expected to go ahead from 1st April. The Mayor insists the revenue is necessary to cover increased energy costs for the public sector. A similar tax is expected on cruise passengers from 2026. Updates will be published on ETOA’s tax and tourism pages.

Upcoming Events

On June 12th – 13th in London ETOA, together with its partner CityDNA, will deliver a new member-only event focusing on current challenges facing the industry in Europe, Destinations Exchange Europe. With opportunity for candid, creative discussion with decision makers as well as commercial networking, it is designed for destination managers, operators and the supply chain. For more information click on the banner below:

Insight Hub

Insight Hub

Have you had a look at our Insight Hub recently? In addition to a range of webinar recordings, we continue to add relevant insights and reports. In 2022 we added over 100 elements.

Upcoming webinars

ETOA & Nordic Tourism Collective Webinar | Sustainable Tourism: special focus on Nordic Accommodation, will take place on Tuesday 28th February at 09:00 GMT/10:00 CET.

Register here