ETOA Policy Update | May 2023

Crisis, what crisis? Seen in terms of volume, European tourism is back to pre-pandemic levels in many destinations. Operators are reporting acute supply problems and tough market conditions, but demand is robust.

Cities whose residents include many who will fly south this summer are newly restless in their dissatisfaction with tourism, with predictable political consequences. Antipathy towards the ‘wrong’ kind of tourism may be understandable, but it can feed prejudice. This is troubling territory for an industry that rewards curiosity and celebrates difference.

At ETOA’s Destinations Exchange Europe, delegates from DMOs and industry will be discussing tourism’s current challenges in peer-to-peer groups. That spirit of collaboration is what’s needed to get results that work for visitors and the communities that host them.

EU Tax and Regulation

German VAT

As the law stands, Germany will impose a change in treatment of VAT on non-EU consumer sales as from January 2024. However, ETOA and its partners now understand it is almost certain there will be a further three-year delay so from now until end of 2026 the treatment will remain the same. More concrete news is expected in June. This addresses the concerns of both industry and Germany’s state governments. For more information and a link to our most recent webinar, click here.


Package travel regulation

ETOA recently contributed to further European Commission consultation on a review of package travel regulation within the context of a wider review including passenger rights. Most problematic for EU-based B2C agents and operators is a proposal to limit prepayment to 20% at time of booking, with the balance payable no earlier than 28 days prior to departure. That would make many business models unworkable, in a reverse to sectoral resilience.

ETOA and its partners will continue to push hard for a framework that works for consumers and the tourism ecosystem. For more information, visit our website.

Tourism Careers

PANTOUR Skills Survey

Recruitment challenges within the sector remain severe. Coach drivers for multi-day tours are in short supply. Unless groups can be moved from city to city with their luggage, European inbound business will be lost. ​​​​​Industry insight is still welcome in support of EU-funded PANTOUR, a follow-up project of the Next Tourism Generation Skills Alliance focusing on skills development in the sector.

The survey will investigate whether a gap exists between current levels of skills in the tourism industry and the future skills needed in 2030. The survey helps to chart the importance of three distinct skills: social, digital, and green, for tourism businesses in the European Union.

Take the survey

Climate Action and Destination Management

Greentripper – ETOA’s new climate action partner

greentripper ETOA has partnered with Greentripper, a Belgian company dedicated to promoting sustainable practices within the tourism sector worldwide. Their mission is to empower travellers and travel professionals to calculate, reduce, and offset the environmental impact of their journeys, accelerating the transition to a more sustainable future. Greentripper will help ETOA implement its own climate action plan as well as offer services and support to its members. For more information, please click here.






European Capital & Green Pioneer of Smart Tourism

Smart tourism EU logo The European Commission invites any city whose population is at 100,000 to apply for the European Capital & Green Pioneer of Smart Tourism award by 05 July.

Two online workshops guiding applicants through the process of writing a successful application are offered:

  • European Capital of Smart Tourism: Applicant workshop
    The online workshop will take place on 1 June 2023, at 14:00 – 15:00 CEST.
    To attend the workshop please register here
  • European Green Pioneer of Smart Tourism: Applicant workshop
    The online workshop will take place on 5 June 2023, at 14:00 – 15:00 CEST.
    To attend the workshop please register here

Additional materials:

To compete for the European Capital or Green Pioneer of Smart Tourism 2024 title, apply online by 5 July 2023, at 17:00 CEST. More information and application materials available here.




On 25 May ETOA spoke at the final conference of another EU-funded project, SmartCulTour, whose purpose is “Redefining Cultural Tourism for Sustainable Destinations.” We stressed the need for better ticketing and distribution to support product diversification and capacity optimisation, and the potential impact of extended opening times and planned price variation on demand.

Visas and Borders


The European Council for Justice and Home Affairs is meeting on 8-9 June, where it is expected
​​​​the new start date for EES will be decided, potentially from or after September 2024. The start date for EES affects the start date for ETIAS, as ETIAS is planned to start 6 months after EES.

ETOA is part of the European Commission industry stakeholder group communicating the rollout. For information and updates, click here.​​​​​​


United Kingdom: ETA

There have been no updates since April (latest information here). The start date for most nationals visiting the UK who do not require a visa e.g. EU/EFTA (excluding Ireland), Japan, Canada and USA is expected to be in autumn/winter 2024.

ETOA is part of an industry working group with other trade associations on the rollout and is in contact with UK Government.


Port of Dover, United Kingdom

The Port of Dover has announced temporary measures for coaches arriving at the Port starting 7am Friday 26 May until 7am Sunday 28 May. Please note a driver change must occur before arriving at the Port (including the Boat Yard where API processing and sequencing will take place). Any change to these measures will be posted on the Port’s website and social media channels.

These measures may also be implemented in the future for peak travel times and part of a longer-term plan to increase the number of French border control desks for coaches (5 or 7 desks are planned to be in use for this weekend). An additional 3 desks are planned to be implemented this summer (at the latest before the Rugby World Cup starts in September) increasing the total to 10.


Schengen Visa Processing

We have received new reports from members about unmanageable delays in visa processing, for example from operators working with India outbound to Italy and Switzerland. China outbound operators are reporting no visa appointment availability until October. Further to our interim report, and with the return of China outbound, we would welcome any anecdotal updates on visa processing in Asia. Please contact us, in confidence, via this link.

Up-to-date information about visa requirements and borders in Europe


Learn More

City access

Edinburgh coach access – request for operator feedback

Edinburgh Council is developing proposals for coach access and requesting input from industry on the drop off/pick up areas that are favourable for operators and the number of coaches/passengers using these areas (including time(s) during the day). This is part of a longer-term city mobility plan affecting vehicle access in the city (particularly in Old and New Town). If you would like to contribute, please contact us.

Please note, the City Tour Buses have moved their start/finish location to Waterloo Place from St Andrew Square on a trial basis from 5th March. They are using the area with extended pavement width, on the South side of Waterloo Place adjacent to the cemetery, for loading/unloading and East of here as a tour bus stance. Coaches are requested not to stop in these areas from early morning until 7pm.


Amsterdam coach plan

At a working group meeting in Amsterdam this week ETOA members discussed city access. Despite new restrictions within the S100 due to start from 1 January 2024, there is no detailed information to date on the exemption permit application process for coaches carrying children up to 12 years of age, elderly from 67 years of age or disabled people visiting educational and cultural institutions.

From June to August 2023, a trial will occur at Rhijnspoorplein (H33), see here for further information. Also, there will be road closures on Weesperstraat from 12 June to 23 July and Stadhouderskade from 2 June to 24 July. See Tourbuzz for information on drop-off points, parking and traffic disruption/diversions.


ETOA continues to partner with organisations and associations that complement us and add value to our members. In addition to Greentripper, we can announce two additional partnerships that bring value to our members. If you would like to know more about our partners, click here.



Inclusive Tourism: ETOA announces new partnership with ELTA

To promote awareness of the value of LGBTQ+ tourism among destinations, operators and the supply chain, ETOA is delighted to announce its recent partnership with ELTA. Mutual benefits include discounted membership of ETOA for ELTA members and training opportunities for ETOA’s community. More details will be published soon via our partner page. Meanwhile, for more information, please email us here. ELTA logo








New data partner, Mabrian Technologies

We are delighted to announce a new partnership agreement with Mabrian. Mabrian are a tourism intelligence provider, whose mission is to introduce a data-culture into the tourism decision-making process. Their tourism intelligence tools pull data from a wide range of sources, with analytics available at national, regional and city levels. Our members will benefit from their expertise via webinars and seminars. They will be at Destinations Exchange Europe, and our first webinar with them will be on 10th July. MABRIAN

Insights & Research

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. This month we have added eight new reports.