THE UK is set to introduce a new requirement for visa-exempt visitors to Britain which will see them fill in an online form and pay a fee in order to enter the country.
Starting from next year, tourists from Spain and other European countries will need to complete an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) form before boarding a plane to the UK.
The move will affect all European Union citizens and is a tit-for-tat response to the EU’s ETIAS tourist tax, which has been causing consternation among Spanish tourism bosses.
The ostensible purpose of the ETA, according to the British Home Office – just as with the ETIAS – is to improve security and digitise the UK’s borders.
Visitors will be required to disclose their full name, their date of birth, country of citizenship and details of their trip.
There will also be a fee to be paid although it has not been revealed how much it will be – the EU will charge Brits €7 to enter the Schengen Zone once the ETIAS comes into effect in November.
Most applicants should receive a response immediately, but more complex requests may need the attention of a customs officer and could take longer.
Visitors from all countries which do not require a visa, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil and dozens more will also be required to complete the new tax.
The announcement of the ETA, coming just weeks after reaction to the EU’s ETIAS heated up, will look to many observers like it is simply a reciprocal tax.
The ETIAS has drawn sharp criticism from some circles, with details of how it will be applied and where the money raised will end up still unknown.
Tourism bosses in the Costa del Sol railed against the ETIAS as a threat to the region’s international competitiveness and told the EU to ‘leave tourism alone!’
Francisco Salado, the President of Tourism and Planning said last month: “Stop inventing new taxes.
“Every time we introduce a charge, we do it to improve tourism quality. But a tax like this does not add to the quality.
“But what it does do is put a cost on the final product and makes us less competitive.”