Working groups provide opportunity for ETOA’s members and partners to cooperate on issues to do with the business environment for tourism in Europe. They are topic or destination focused. Activities can range from in-person meetings to ad hoc consultation and information sharing. Their composition is not fixed and expressions of interest are welcome. We try to ensure access to insight from various business models and origin markets, and specialist expertise where applicable.

Current activity and priorities

Group tourism is the core business of many of ETOA’s operator members, and it remains poorly understood. Coach tourism is under-appreciated as a low-emission form of collective transport which is capable of bringing visitor spend to all parts of Europe. This group acts as a reality-check for the in-house team to ensure we’re focusing on what affects members the most, and prioritising correctly. Even if we can’t change the situation, we can provide accurate, actionable information. It may also identify what activity needs more focused effort, and provide feedback on ETOA’s online resources, especially Operating in Europe.

Topics generally discussed in the Group tourism working group:

  • Coach Access and parking
  • Group restrictions
  • Attractions and ticketing
  • Accommodation
  • Overnight Tax
  • Regulation affecting freedom to provide guiding services
  • Visa and border formalities

Latest drop-in: May 2024

At this online Drop-In, members shared their perspectives from the season so far, with the main issue Colosseum ticketing. Other concerns included:

  • Impact of operations and availability in secondary cities consequent to cruise ship arrivals
  • Naples coach access permit and zone; ticketing at Louvre and Accademia (Florence)
  • Unavailability of rates for 2026 from hotel partners; impact of group size restrictions on programme design given driving hours

Operationally, the launch of the day tax in Venice went smoothly, though the additional administration – usually for clients who do not have to pay as staying overnight – is unwelcome additional load for operators and their local partners. Looking ahead to 2026-27, members agreed that more notice is needed as to destinations’ intentions to change coach access and/or restrict group size.

Members reported a range of responses from Italy’s Ministry of Culture to tour guides’ submission of ‘prior declarations.’ As guiding is necessary for tour guides (including variants such as tour / trip director, leader etc.) it is important to indicate intention to provide guiding services on a temporary and occasional basis and, where applicable, provide evidence of past experience of guiding – not ‘just’ leading tours. While profession of ‘accompagnatore‘ – tour guide in common usage – is not subject to the prior declaration requirement, an accompagnatore may not provide cultural information.

For more information see the guiding page. Other topics included a review of latest tourism tax and city access updates.

Companies represented at recent meetings