The European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) has always been very outspoken. The CEO of ETOA responded to rumors that the European Union countries may enforce visa regulations for American travelers to visit EU destinations.
ETOA says in a press release:
Reports have been circulating that, according to an unnamed European “source” that there is “a real risk that the EU would move towards visas for Americans and Canadians.”
The reason for this move lies in the lack of reciprocity between the visa conditions that are imposed on new entrants into the EU and visiting North Americans.
The US offers visa-waiver schemes to all of the members of the old EU, but requires different entry criteria from citizens of Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Poland. We believe that it is to redress this that the idea of imposing restrictions on North American visitors has been raised.
“At first glance,” said Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA, “This seems an act of shocking stupidity. The value of North American tourism to Europe is approximately $60 billion: it is equivalent in importance to entire export value of Europe’s automotive industry. It is wholly in Europe’s interest to ensure that this continues.
“The inbound tourism industry, though vital, is delicate. It is contingent on perceptions of welcome and safety. These are never robust: at present they are particularly fragile. The European institutions ought to be considering how to improve the welcome. This does the opposite.
“Whilst the obligation of the European Union is to seek full reciprocity in visa treatment for all member states, even the chance that a visa regime will be imposed may cause real alarm. And alarm can destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“Even at second glance, the reciprocity being sought is absurd: because some Europeans are being denied the chance to freely access American services, we will impose the same restrictions on Americans spending money in Europe. It would be an act of commercial self-mutilation on an epic scale.”