Destination and Policy Update

September 2020

We continue to develop our website and new member-only content is added and updated frequently. Some of the gated content exclusively for members includes:

  • Insight Hub: a statistical and insights service for our members, partners and stakeholders. Its aim is to provide up-to-date research, actionable insights and opinion pieces on the topics that matter to our members
  • Tax and tourismCity and local tax rates for approx. 160 selected European destinations
  • Guiding regulations: Information about guiding regulation in Europe including detailed information on the Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC.
  • COVID-19 resourcesgovernment resources by country covering financial support, cross-border travel and official health guidance as well as resources from multinational bodies and associations.
  • COVID-19 operational guidelinesA library of tourism companies and associations’ guidelines for Covid-related risk management that businesses can consult and adapt, taking into account their clients, product and premises
  • Hotlines: complementary hotlines for tourism businesses regarding advice on legal services, taxation, TOMS, communication & technology as well as advice on selling, buying and growing tourism businesses
  • Destination pages: practical and operational information for 17 European destinations on tourism tax, access & mobility, attractions, guiding regulation, public holidays, local events and information about ETOA’s local activity

If you are not able to login, please contact us.

The next Group tourism working group will be held on 7 October 15:30 GMT / 16:30 CEST online. Members working with group tourism are welcome to participate. Please contact Sofie Jensen if you would like to join this meeting or hear more.




Survey: Financial support for European tourism sector

The tourism industry needs continued support: to argue effectively for public funds we need more data, and have designed a short survey to gather it.

Each week, ETOA and other stakeholders join a call with the European Commission to share industry insight and inform policy. We also contribute to bilateral discussion with UK government and other national bodies. National governments responded in different ways to the crisis: public health protocols; border control; financial support.

For financial support, the mechanisms varied: some countries allowed business to receive money and supply detailed justification later; others imposed more onerous administrative requirements. Some provided prompt support to businesses liable to refund consumers under Package Travel regulation; others did not.

The results of this short survey are intended to do two things:

  • Map what worked, and what did not
  • Identify what kind of financial support would make the most difference for the next six months

Industry insight is necessary to ensure that scarce financial resources are prioritised properly, and to build knowledge about good practice in emergencies.

Please feel free to share this link with industry colleagues, whether or not they are members of ETOA. More than ever, the industry’s inter-dependence is clear to see. It is vital that the entire ecosystem is supported so that it is able to return employment to the economy.

Click here to start the survey


Travel Restrictions

Travel restrictions continue to present a major challenge to recovery. While borders remain a ‘national competence’, ETOA believes that the European Commission has authority under Article 24 of the Schengen Borders Code to require better co-ordination among member states of any restrictions on freedom of movement within the Schengen area. This is because the reasons to restrict travel are now ‘foreseeable’: a continued need for proportionate measures to ensure pandemic control. This was not the case at the start of the crisis when temporary powers were invoked. The European Tourism Manifesto group agreed, and adopted the call for European Commission action in its recent statementSubsequently, the European Commission has proposed a European Council recommendation on a coordinated approach by member states.

To illustrate what happens when restrictions are lifted, aviation data specialists ForwardKeys report that the week-on-week growth in flights search from UK grew by 576% when Portugal was removed from the quarantine list, whereas search for flights to Spain is now back at levels last seen during lockdown.



The EU and UK Government are still negotiating on the future trading relationship that will take effect from 1 January 2021. To allow time for ratification of any agreement in respective parliaments, the EU and UK Government have expressed a desire for negotiations to conclude before the European Council Meeting on 15-16 October. We will provide updates on the outcome. Please see our Brexit page for further information.

Regardless of any agreement, changes will occur after the transition period, in particular the practice of ‘free movement’ (a core principle of the EU) will end for UK nationals in the EU (except in Ireland) and EU nationals in the UK (except for Irish and EU nationals on the EU Settlement Scheme). This will affect border arrangements for visitors and workers. The Common Travel Area (applicable for British and Irish nationals) will continue as today. Yesterday, the Irish Government published their latest Brexit Readiness Action Plan and Ireland’s preparations for the post transition period.

For non-EU/non-UK nationals, changes for travellers and businesses should be limited depending on individual circumstances.



For the latest information on border restrictions, services allowed to open and health and safety protocols (e.g. whether mandatory to wear a face covering or mask on transport services) please see Re-Open EU mapIATA map and government webpages on our COVID-19 resources pageWe have noted border restrictions have been re-introduced by some EU member states and between some countries within the Schengen area such as Hungary. Next week, Ireland is expected to publish a new road map to recovery where it is likely international travel will be covered including their current ‘Green List’.

Members are welcome to contact us for further information and assistance to help with their tour planning.


Rome – Vatican museum: The museum has updated their visiting and booking policy from 14 September. Groups up to 20 pax (plus guide) are allowed and whisperers are mandatory for groups over 10 pax. More information on our Rome page.


Tourism Taxes: Our Spain tourist tax page has been reviewed and updated. Changes includes Catalonia rate increase from January 2021 plus potential surcharge in Barcelona should City Council choose to implement from January 2021. In addition, we understand San Sebastián has deferred their intention to introduce a tourist tax from January 2021.

Catalonia – guiding: The Catalan government has published guidelines (in Catalan) on how to conduct guided tours during the COVID-19 crisis. More information on our Barcelona page.

Granada – Alhambra and Generalife: Our understanding is that the Alhambra is not refunding booking fees for groups cancelled while the attraction was closed in March-June. Furthermore, they are still not planning to refund or provide vouchers for groups not able to visit at current times due to travel restrictions. We are continuing to create dialogue with the attraction to push for better conditions and communication. More information about Alhambra here.

United Kingdom

Travel corridors: In the UK, there have been weekly changes to the travel corridors in the last month which exempt arrivals from these countries from quarantine. The travel corridors can be found via our United Kingdom section on the COVID-19 resources page. While the passenger locator form is the same across the UK, the travel corridor list differs between the four countries. This week, the UK Government announced a regional quarantine policy for countries with islands and is considering a testing system that would reduce the 14-day quarantine period rather than a single test on arrival.

Scotland tourist tax: The Scottish Government has published their programme for 2020-2021As reported on our UK tourist tax page in March, the government has put on hold the introduction of the visitor levy bill (originally expected during 2020) that would allow destinations such as Edinburgh to introduce a visitor levy. In the programme, the Scottish Government has confirmed that the visitor levy bill is still on hold with no decision expected in the immediate future. “Future consideration of the levy will take account of the changed context the industry is operating in.”

Gatherings in England: The UK Government has announced that gatherings both inside and outside in England will be restricted to 6 people from 30 from Monday 14 September. We are waiting for the new regulation to be published as previous regulation in England had exempted businesses such as coach operators, hotels and attractions due to following ‘COVID-19 Secure guidelines’. Different regulation applies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Further information will be published in the United Kingdom section on our COVID-19 resources page shortly.

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