The Network for the European Private Sector in Tourism (NET), which gathers the main travel and tourism and trade associations in Europe*, is calling on the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) to adopt a smart Schengen Visa package.
The LIBE Committee is due on Wednesday to hold its vote on the package of measures that the European Commission has proposed.
The European Commission has forecast that the rules within its legislative proposal would strongly facilitate Schengen visa processing, leading to an increase of visitors of up to 60 percent and generate up to 25 billion euros in additional revenue for the EU every year.
“The review of the Visa Code is a unique opportunity to facilitate travel for legitimate travellers from third countries requiring a Schengen visa, such as tourists and business travellers, thereby contributing to the generation of growth and employment in Europe”, said ECTAA president, Lars Thykier.
“Travelling with one single visa to 26 countries covered by the Schengen sounds great, but what use is it when the conditions for obtaining the Schengen visa are so complex and burdensome that people are deterred from visiting Europe?”
In particular, NET calls on the LIBE MEPs to vote in favour of the mandatory issuance of multiple-entry visas so as to encourage tourists to repeat visit to Schengen countries and to facilitate the movement of legitimate workers in the EU. In this context, it is important to keep the definition of VIS registered regular traveller flexible, so as to ensure that high numbers of legitimate travellers can opt to apply for multiple-entry visas.
According to UNWTO data, Europe has steadily lost market share in world tourism, decreasing from 64 percent in 1980 to 51 percent in 2010. If things remain unchanged, as other regions of the world continue to step up their efforts to increase tourism flows, Europe’s market share is expected to fall to 41 percent by 2030.
Other high-impact proposals NET supports include the possibility for the traveller to apply for their visa at the consulate that is closer to their place of residence; not make the proof of accommodation compulsory; to give applicants a longer period to lodge their application, in order to allow them to plan their trip; to support a visa fee waiver extension (e.g. for minors); and to include tourists in the scope of touring visa.
In 2014, tourism represented the third-largest socio-economic sector within the European Union, generating 10% of GDP and employing 13 million people3, 91% of which are working in small and medium-sized enterprises.
* The representative organizations of all major sub sectors of the tourism industry in Europe are represented in NET, notably CLIA (cruise lines), ECTAA (travel agents and tour operators), EFCO&HPA (camp sites, holiday parks and holiday villages), ETOA (inbound tourism), HOTREC (hotels, restaurants and cafes), IAAPA (amusement parks and attractions) and the IRU (bus, coach and taxi operators).