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EUROPEAN UNION

Britons and other non-EU travellers face €7 fee to enter Europe for visits

British nationals as well as all other visa-exempt non-EU citizens will have to get authorisation and pay a €7 fee to enter the Schengen zone when new rules come in to force before the end of 2022, the European commission confirmed on Tuesday.

Britons and other non-EU travellers face €7 fee to enter Europe for visits
Britons and other non-EU travellers face €7 fee to enter Europe for visits (Photo by STEFANIE LOOS / AFP)

The move is part of the Commission’s plans for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) – and will affect all visitors coming from visa-exempt countries – like the UK, the US and Canada – who want to travel to EU states like France, Germany, Spain and Italy.  

“Once ETIAS is in place, non-EU citizens travelling to the Schengen area who are exempt from the visa requirement will need to register and obtain an authorisation before travelling,” said the Commission in a press release.

“The system will cross-check travellers against EU information systems for internal security, borders and migration before their trip, helping to identify ahead of time people who may pose a risk to security or health, as well as compliance with migration rules.”

The move is part of the EU’s phasing-in plan for external border management with the ETIAS system aimed at boosting security to prevent crime and terrorism as well control migration.

Travellers affected will have to fill in an online application form which will have to be approved. 

The Commission said on Tuesday the “vast majority of cases (expected to be over 95%) will result in automatic approval”.

“In limited cases, where further checks on the traveller are needed, the issuing of the travel authorisation could take up to 30 days,” the EU Commission says

The ETIAS authorisation will be a €7 one-off fee, and will be valid for three years as well as for multiple entries into Schengen states during that time. 

Applicants will be able to apply via an official website and/or app for mobile devices, the Commissions says.

Which countries are affected?

In general, visas are required for entry to EU countries for non-EU nationals. 

But a visa is not needed for visits of up to 90 days in an 180‑day period for nationals of countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement. That includes the UK, the US, Canada and Australia, among others. 

At the moment for instance, British passport holders who do not hold a residence title in an EU country, can enter Europe for short visits and tourist trips without having to pay a fee or organise a visa – although Covid restrictions have made travel a lot trickier. 

The EU Commission said the ETIAS will not change “which non-EU countries are subject to a visa requirement and will also not introduce a new visa requirement for nationals of countries that are visa-exempt”.

When will it happen?

We haven’t got an exact date yet but the EU Commission says it will happen by the end of 2022. 

The date from which travellers will be able to apply will be published on this site.

According to the EU “ETIAS will be a largely automated IT system created to identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen States, whilst at the same time facilitate crossing borders for the vast majority of travellers who do not pose such risks.”

Member comments

    1. It’s to “identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors”.
      Funny how “high epidemic risks” has now been added in.
      The ETIAS tax-raising data-gathering idea has been in existence, long before Covid. So the excuse du jour, which was formerly “health and safety” and then “security” and now “Covid” for everything, has now been added in.

      So it’s a visa.
      If you want a visa then make it a visa.

    2. When the USA started requiring ESTA approvals for the EU, the EU warned that they would reciprocate. That is ETIAS. The rest of the world is incidental to this.

  1. If UK reciprocates, will that mean those arriving from France by dinghy ( without a pre-visa visa ) can be returned ?

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TOURISM

Can tourism in France surpass pre-pandemic levels this year?

A report from the World Travel & Tourism Council predicts that the French tourism sector will bounce back strongly in 2022, potentially even surpassing pre-pandemic levels. We spoke to people in the tourist industry to see how they feel about the future.

Can tourism in France surpass pre-pandemic levels this year?

Covid-19 has battered the French tourism sector. 

In 2019, before the pandemic, tourism accounted for about 8 percent of French GDP and 9.5 percent of all jobs. The 90 million tourists who visited the country that year brought in an estimated €170 billion. 

While France is thought to remain the most visited country in the world, the last couple of years have been a disaster. Only 40 million people visited the country from overseas in 2020 (54 percent less than in 2019). Official figures for 2021 have not been released but the total number of foreign tourists was thought to be 50 million, according to government projections before the end of the year. Many have felt a real-life impact of this. 

Simon Burke left his job as an HR director for a Paris-based tour company called Fat Tire Bike Tours last year. Withering tourist numbers meant the company was running on a skeleton staff, making his role redundant.

But in September, he incorporated a new business – Txango Tours – offering tourists guided visits of Paris, Versailles and other parts of the country in motorcycle sidecar. 

“It is really a childhood dream. I’m feeling optimistic about this season,” he said. 

Simon Burke tests out a Txango Tour sidecar in Paris.

Simon Burke tests out a Txango Tour sidecar in Paris. (Source: Txango Tours)

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, Simon’s confidence is not misplaced.

The organisation predicts strong growth in the French tourism sector this year if restrictions continue to be gradually lifted. It said that tourism industry could bring €182 million into France in 2022 and that the number of people working in it could even surpass pre-pandemic levels. 

Data from France’s national statistical authority for the last quarter of 2021 showed that tourist accommodation bookings were 8.6 percent lower than the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

It indicated a bounce-back in domestic tourism with residents spending just 3 percent fewer nights in hotels, campsites, gites and other tourist sites than before the pandemic, but international tourists were still hesitant, with 33 percent fewer hotel stays than in 2019. 

Even before the pandemic, domestic tourism (French people holidaying within their own country) accounted for 70 percent of all tourism revenue, and over the last two years the government has promoted staycations as a ‘patriotic’ option to support the tourism industry.

But for some, the outlook remains bleak.  

Clare Dawson, who is based in the Alpine resort of Tignes, runs a website called tignes.co.uk through which she and her small team rent out dozens of self-catered chalets, organise airport transfers and hire out ski equipment. 

In the past, Clare has relied largely on seasonal workers from Britain, mostly employed on part-time contracts. But because of Brexit, this option is now much harder – given the visa requirements. 

“We just can’t get the staff,” she said. 

“Of course, we are all hoping that Covid is a short term thing, but Brexit is permanent”. 

Local labour market conditions in France mean that the local population prefer to avoid temporary, part-time contracts. The hospitality sector had been struggling to recruit enough staff even before Brexit and Covid. 

Seasonal Businesses in Travel (SBIT) which is a collective of more than 200 British tourism businesses operating in the EU placed 7,000 adverts on for chalet worker jobs in pôle emploi centres during the 2018-19 ski season, guaranteeing that they would employ anyone who applied. In total, there were three responses to the ad, two of which were spam emails. 

The mountains though, haven’t escaped the pandemic altogether. Clare has had foreign guests cancel reservations at the last minute over concerns about the vaccine pass and ski lifts have been closed at various points during the pandemic. 

Her partner runs a ski rental company called Tignes Spirit which has cut staffing from 35 last year, to just 10. 

“For ski businesses, it has been a really tough couple of years,” said Clare. 

The French government has invested billions of euros in supporting the French tourism over the course of the pandemic and unveiled a further €1.9 billion in financing in November to help develop the sector further over a ten-year period – much of this funding has been earmarked for training people to work in hospitality roles.  

READ MORE What you need to know about the French ‘Tourism Plan’

Perhaps even more significant than all this spending is the easing of Covid restrictions, according to SBIT managing director, Charles Owen. 

“In terms of a bounce back, everything is relative,” he said.

“With the end of the UK-France travel ban and with restrictions being wound back, we are starting to recover. But the pandemic has caused a lasting amount of damage and many firms have not survived.” 

The US government issued a level-4 travel warning for France in December, placing it in the red do-not-travel category. This is particularly damaging to some in the industry. 

More recently the four-month booster shot requirement for the vaccine pass has created difficulties for some Americans, leading to the US Embassy issuing a warning for people to check carefully the vaccine pass rules before booking a trip. 

The candy-loaded piñata is the American market – we need them to come here,” said Simon.

The French government is talking about lifting restrictions such as mask-wearing and vaccine pass rules in the spring, when the health situation permits.

But there is no guarantee that rules would not be reimposed if a new variant emerges – epidemiologists have warned that this cannot be ruled out. 

For Simon though, the sooner that such restrictions are lifted, the better. 

“If France continues to require the vaccine to do anything in France, tourism will not return to the pre-pandemic levels we are all hoping for,” he said. 

“I think, really, restrictions need to go away. But that is just wishful thinking.” 

You can find all the latest on travel rules and testing requirements in our Travelling to France section.

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