The European Tourism Association (ETOA) is calling on all EU member states and the European Parliament to press forward with reform of the Schengen visa scheme in order to meet changing market expectations.
The Commission has made proposals for the Schengen regime, which allows visitors to cross into 26 different countries with one visa, since April 2014.
ETOA is urging further improvement to Schengen visa facilitation and increased collaboration between visa-issuing member states. This is of vital importance especially ahead of 2018 EU-China Year of Tourism as the EU must be in a position to respond to the demand.
“I call on colleagues in Parliament and in member states — especially those who lack the resources to provide sufficient consular services in Europe’s key origin markets — to support the Commission’s proposals. The vital question of Europe’s response to migration and humanitarian crises should not affect measures designed to manage and promote legitimate tourism”, said István Ujhelyi, MEP, vice-chair of European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee.
Improved processes and intelligent collaboration are expected to benefit smaller EU states whose consular facilities are stretched and for whom long-haul tourism is a significant opportunity.
The reform process has become enmeshed in concerns about security and migration. ETOA stresses that to enable progress, EU institutions must separate the treatment of humanitarian visas and Schengen visa facilitation for tourists.
“Tourism creates employment, especially for young people. Interest in travel to Europe, especially from countries whose citizens require visas, cannot be taken for granted. The reforms were proposed in 2014; it is now 2017. If the EU is serious about creating jobs, it must also be serious about visa reform”, said ETOA CEO Tom Jenkins.