Barcelona and Amsterdam coach plans: a tale of two cities

Barcelona City Council has imposed coach restrictions around the Sagrada Familia in the face of calls from the local tourism sector for more consultation and time to consider the plans.

Barcelona and Amsterdam coach plans: a tale of two cities

Barcelona City Council has imposed coach restrictions around the Sagrada Familia in the face of calls from the local tourism sector for more consultation and time to consider the plans. The completion of the church’s interior saw a 40 percent rise with 3.2 million visitors last year, which prompted a review of the situation.

The council had proposed setting up a working group, but this never came to pass. ETOA wrote an open letter to the authorities and contributed to an industry seminar in April, offering examples from across Europe of how to, and how not to, manage coach tourism.

There is now an exclusion zone in place in the immediate vicinity of the church, except for school groups up to high school age and people of reduced mobility, who in both cases must have group tickets and register online. Otherwise all other coaches will now have to stop up to 5 blocks away in a number of designated places. For more information, please click here.
Meanwhile, Amsterdam is drafting a new coach plan through to 2020 as part of a broader transport strategy. In preparation for this, they have set up working groups involving local operators and businesses, as well as district associations.

The city has seen a large increase in tourism over the last decade, and the industry has been handed a lot of the initiative and responsibility for the plan.

Nick Greenfield of ETOA, who spoke at a recent meeting in Amsterdam, welcomed the inclusive nature of the discussions. “It is good to feel that the industry is not only being listened to but is actively involved in this process. Tourism often has a battle on its hands to be afforded the attention it deserves when it comes to policy making; there are times when you feel you may as well be talking to your television set at home.

“Our message here is keep any plan clear and simple, don’t see coach tourism as a cash cow as is the case some destinations, notably Italy, and give plenty of notification.”

ETOA will be providing international input and will keep members updated on developments. If you have any observations you would like to share about coach access in Amsterdam or elsewhere, then please contact Nick Greenfield at [email protected] .

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