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European Union: is the 50 billion euros tourism market at risk?

potential visa requirement for Canadian and American visitors

The European Commission has until July 2016 to study the non-reciprocity issue in terms of visas with the United States, Canada, and Brunei. This measure is alarming to the European Tourism Association that worries about the consequences it could have on tourism.

Rédigé par The Editors translated by Joséphine Foucher le Lundi 18 Avril 2016

Photo Commission européenne
Photo Commission européenne
Visitors from the United States, Canada, and Brunei may potentially be imposed a visa for coming to Europe, because these three countries do not visa-exempt visitors from all member states of the European Union.

Canada currently requires Romanian and Bulgarian visitors to have a visa, while the United States requires a visa for Bulgarian, Croatian, Cypriot, Polish, and Romanian visitors. Brunei still has a visa requirement for Croatians.

Yet, as part of the reciprocity procedure in terms of visas, initiated by the European Parlement and Council, if a third country has not lifted the visa obligations in the 24 months following the notification of a non-reciprocity situation, the Commission must review the situation and propose the temporary suspension of the visa waiver for the citizens of the third countries involved, for a duration of 12 months.

Because in a spirit of solidarity, the EU is also hoping for third countries that are on the list of countries exempt from a visa requirement to grant the same exemption to the citizens of all member states of the EU.

In this respect, the European Commission is asking the European Parlement and Council to “to urgently open talks, to take a position on the best way forward in light of the evaluation presented by the Commission and to present their respective position to the Commission between now and July 12, 2016 at the latest.”

The European Tourism Association worries on the consequences this could have on tourism

“Visa reciprocity is a fundamental element of the EU's common visa policy. EU citizens rightly expect to travel without a visa to any third country whose citizens can enter the Schengen area visa-free.

Today, the Commission has assessed the legal, political and economic consequences of a possible temporary suspension of the visa waiver with the U.S., Canada and Brunei and has asked for positions on the way forward from the European Parliament and the Council.

Full visa reciprocity will stay high on the agenda of our bilateral relations with these countries, and we will continue pursuing a balanced and fair outcome,”
expressed Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner of Migration, Interior and Citizenship Affairs, in a statement.

The ETOA (European Tourism Association) worries about the potential suspension of a visa waiver for travelers coming from the United States and Canada.

“Millions of jobs depend on it”

Both of these markets are important for Europe, reminds the association, as they represent revenues estimated at 50 billion euros. “It is an export industry on the same level as the automotive sector. Millions of jobs are dependent on it,” it specifies.

Even if there are no numbers to evaluate the shortfalls, if a visa regime were imposed, it expects leisure travel which (including visiting friends and relatives) makes up over 80% of trips in total, to suffer a fall in magnitude of roughly 30%.

Mario Bodini, President of the ETOA calls on the European Council and Parlement to measure the impact of such a measure. He believes that 15 billion euros and 600,000 jobs are at risk.

He concludes by adding that it must be considered that imposing such a measure would leave the main Schengen entry countries with a 10 million visa processing task...

Union Européenne : un marché touristique de 50 milliards d'euros en danger ?

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