Europe’s share of global international tourism arrivals is declining. High quality visa facilitation and border processes are essential to support growth from emerging markets. Only 17% of the EU’s visitors come from long-haul markets. In 2017, growth in international arrivals to non-EU European destinations outpaced growth to the EU: 8% average for EU, and an average of 12% to non-EU southern and Mediterranean Europe, including Turkey. The appeal of non-European destinations is also developing fast: part of that appeal is visa-free travel and smart visa processes. Visa policy remains particularly subject to political risk.

What you need to know

  • Increasing risk of economic loss as non-European destinations develop
  • Political risk to visa-waiver status remains significant
  • The Schengen Visa Code is under review

ETOA’s policy objectives

  • An objective assessment of risk allowing more countries to have visa-waiver status
  • Intelligent reform to Schengen visa code including development of e-visas
  • Efficient and welcoming border processes

What we are doing

  • Collaborate with industry partners including ‘Manifesto for Jobs and Growth in Tourism’
  • Work with European Commission, Parliament and national governments
  • Conduct origin market surveys and publish reports

The requirement to obtain a visa before travel is a deterrent. Only 3 – 4% of the EU’s leisure visitors from outside Europe have a visa, yet citizens from large source markets require them, including China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Russia. While some improvement has been made, Schengen visa processes remain problematic and costly. Ireland and the UK have a Common Travel Area whose benefits may be undermined should the UK leave the EU.

The Schengen Area remains one of the EU’s great success stories. Borderless travel between 22 EU and four non-EU states transformed the offer of multi-country itineraries enjoyed by long-haul visitors in particular. The introduction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation Services (ETIAS), expected second half of 2022, should increase confidence in borderless travel and enable more origin markets to qualify for visa-waiver status.

Following strong representation from industry, its fee has been set at a modest level, as the EC originally proposed, and will not be used as revenue stream for promotional purposes. ETOA and others took the view that seeking profit would penalise those who had chosen to visit Europe, and that promotion should be funded in other ways.

European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)

ETIAS introduces a mandatory pre-clearance permit for Schengen zone[1] visitors who are citizens of countries with Schengen zone visa-waiver status, including Japan and USA. For a list of Schengen visa-requiring and visa-waiver countries, see Annexes I and II of regulation 2018/1806/EU. The framework legislation for ETIAS has been in force since late 2018. Official EU press release is available here.

The system is expected to become operational in the second half of 2022. A permit will cost €7 and last 3 years. Further updates will be published on this page.

Unlike the USA equivalent, ESTA, the revenue will not contribute to tourism promotion. The fee is set at a level to cover costs including development of land border infrastructure as well as system itself. Some confusion about scope and operation has arisen due to the proliferation of unofficial websites with URLs containing either Schengen or ETIAS. An official gateway will be available in due course.

[1] Schengen zone comprises 26 states: EU27 states except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania; plus the four EFTA states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland. Ireland has an ‘opt outs’ and is not obliged to join (this was also the case for the UK as an EU member); the other four EU states should eventually join.

Schengen visa processing in India

This impact survey presents high level preliminary findings from research conducted by ETOA between July and September 2018. It is intended to inform current debate on the reform of the Schengen Visa Code.

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Europe: Open for Business?

Impact survey on Schengen visa processing in origin markets: China and India, 2018. Report and Recommendations.

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