ETOA Policy Update | November 2022

New formalities to cross external European borders are expected from 2023. With stretched resources for public-sector investment, will Europe’s gateways be able to process passengers at the rate required? The aviation sector, while supportive of the overall policy objectives, has expressed concerns that both pre-departure and on-arrival checks may be subject to significant delay without better preparation.

For the EU, 2023 is the last full year of the current Commission and Parliament. A range of regulatory proposals will be published. As well as the lead-in to the new border formalities, ETOA will be closely monitoring the review of consumer protection in package travel and passenger rights regulation, in particular any proposals affecting consumer pre-payments given intermediaries’ financial risk. Following consultation, new EU proposals for VAT on travel and tourism services are also expected.

This edition of ETOA’s Policy news includes updates on:

  • Visas and borders, incl. expectations for 2023
  • Tax and tourism, incl. German VAT
  • Sustainability

Visas and Borders

EES, ETIAS and ETA: new European border formalities from 2023

ETOA’s Visas and Border webpage has been updated with a new format and content covering the Schengen Area, non-Schengen EU member states and the UK.

During 2023, new border formalities are expected: the Entry/Exit System (EES) and European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), affecting non-EU and non-EFTA citizens entering the Schengen Area as well as some non-Schengen EU member states. We held a webinar on these systems last week, where we were joined by Marie-Eve Albertelli from Groupe ADP. The UK’s Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), similar to ETIAS and expected to be operational before 2025, was also discussed.

Webinar recording

Enlargement of Schengen Area

On 8-9 December, the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the EU will meet. The agenda will include a vote on Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania joining the Schengen Area. If approved, internal EU border controls with existing Schengen countries will be removed. For nationals of Schengen visa-exempt countries, time in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania will count towards the 90 in 180-day time limit in the Schengen Area. If not approved, time in Bulgaria and Romania will still count once EES is implemented. The result of the decision will be published on our Visas and Border webpage.


Europe: Open for Business?

Initial findings from recent ETOA’s visa processing survey focusing on outbound China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines suggest that Europe is providing disappointing levels of service. Once bookings have been made, 28% of respondents reported cancellation rates of over 50% due to Schengen visa-related problems. Prior to booking, the competitive loss to Europe is clear: 75% of respondents though that potential applicants who chose not to proceed were still likely to plan an international holiday elsewhere once they realised what obtaining a Schengen, Ireland or UK visa required. For a short presentation of some of the initial findings, including tables showing relative performance between issuing states, click the button below:

Visa survey 2022 – Initial findings


While the results of a snapshot survey may not be scientific or fully representative, in this case they are echoed by anecdotal opinion from both NTOs and operators. They also corroborate finding of the European Commission’s consultation carried out in preparation for their proposal for more digitalisation in visas and processing. We will publish more detailed findings in the new year, including estimates of financial loss. Until European states treat visa facilitation as an investment to secure export revenue as opposed to a cost, it seems likely the problems will persist.

Tax and Tourism

Local Taxes

Venice: Further to previous update and media reports, we are awaiting official confirmation that the contributo di sbarco/accesso (tax applicable to day visitors) has been postponed from 16 January 2023 until at least July 2023. Any updates on new start date and amended regulation will be published on our members only:

Italy tourist tax page

All tourist tax pages covering 150 destinations will be updated during December and January including any increases decided by local and national governments for 2023.


German VAT

​​​​​At time of writing, ETOA and its partners understand that the Federal Ministry of Finance in Germany will not change current VAT treatment of non-EU sales of German product in 2023. If this is officially confirmed it will be a relief for the agents and operators selling Germany that were aware of the issue. Many remained unaware due to lack of any official information in Germany’s source markets. Medium-term certainty is still needed. 2024 product has already been developed for market, 2025 will come into focus soon. Both are adversely affected by doubt about future arrangements. More information here.


ETOA works with its destination partners and other stakeholders to stimulate product development and diversification, both at its commercial events and in policy work. From focused discussion on sustainability at an NBTC workshop in Rotterdam targeting UK, Belgian and German markets to a regenerative tourism NECSTouR event in Barcelona, national and regional tourism management organisations are framing success in terms of sustainability.

Capacity optimisation remains one of the most obvious opportunities, but technical solutions can be frustrated by a limited understanding of distribution models in public tender specifications. It remains the case that online providers employ teams of people to monitor major attractions’ websites for changes in availability, when better APIs would make that unnecessary. The political and practical obstacles from regulation to pricing remain daunting, as was clear from a rail-tourism focused event in Brussels ETOA recently facilitated.

In December, we will be speaking at a meeting of Assembly of European Regions (AER), half of whose autumn bureau meeting will be devoted to sustainable tourism. We will also join a Liguria Region sustainable tourism event in Brussels. A common thread is the scope for more productive collaboration between public and private sectors so tourism and its stakeholders contribute to an integrated destination strategy for long-term success. For more on ETOA’s destination engagement email or click on the banner below:

For further information download the Destination Partners booklet

Download your copy HERE

Free Travelife membership for ETOA members

On climate action, ETOA’s partner Travelife delivered a carbon-focused set of webinars through the EU-funded SUSTOUR programme. Thanks to our partnership ETOA members are eligible to receive a free Travelife Engaged membership. Travelife Engaged is the first stage in the Travelife certification process and is valid until 31 December 2023. It includes:

  • access to 15+ on-demand online trainings, including a final exam and personal certificate;
  • access to the sustainability standards for the Travelife Partner level;
  • use of our comprehensive management, action planning, guidance and reporting tools; and
  • support from the Travelife team regarding technical questions or problems.

Find out more

Insight Hub

Since May we have uploaded over 30 new pieces to our Insight hub, including the following:

Amadeus Hospitality Market Insights Report Sept 2022
A report packed with charts detailing hotel performance across leading markets and world regions, focussing on recent trends and forward bookings.

Market Insight Webinar | South East Asian Markets and China
In this webinar, we took stock of the current situation in the region and looked at prospects for recovery in 2023 and 2024.

Expedia Travel Recovery Trend Report Q2 2022
The latest Expedia Trends Report suggests that a strong second half of 2022 is on the cards with the past quarter having witnessed a more than 100% year-on-year increase in flight bookings from the USA to Europe.