The Eiffel Tower ends its longest closure since the post-war period. Many French and foreign visitors have been waiting for it for nearly nine months: the Parisian monument reopens its doors Friday July 16 to the public, after a month of complete ‘check up’ and with ‘the inevitable’ health pass.
At 12:45 p.m., the puddled iron structure will welcome its first tourists. With a reception capacity reduced to 50%, or 13,000 visitors maximum per day, due in particular to the sanitary gauge imposed in the elevators in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic.
After 260 days without a visitor and a massive recourse to short-time work for the 350 employees, ‘there is a real expectation of the staff’ who end with ‘almost a month of complete check-up’, explains the boss of the Eiffel Tower. Lifts, counters, barrier gestures, ‘it’s a bit like starting a plane …’, explains to AFP the president of the operating company (Sete) Jean-François Martins.
And from Wednesday, in accordance with what the President, Emmanuel Macron, announced for places of leisure and culture bringing together more than 50 people, the health pass will be mandatory to access the monument.
According to Martins, this is ‘inevitable’. ‘Obviously, it’s a little additional operational complexity to implement in a few days, but it’s not insurmountable,’ he puts into perspective.
But ‘the Lady is ready. She gave a big show (Wednesday) evening to prepare ‘, summarizes Mr. Martins, after the fireworks of July 14th.
Come back and get ‘a bit’ of height from July 1⃣6⃣! Good start to online ticket sales #tourEiffel for this summer: plan your visit in advance so that you only worry about the view when you get there. https://t.co/57yb0ZSbV7 pic.twitter.com/8ShRYoywau
– The Eiffel Tower (@LaTourEiffel) June 1, 2021
‘Lots of tickets sold the same day’
Where will the visitors come from? Open since June 1 with 70,000 tickets sold until the end of August, but mostly for the second half of July, the online ticket office allows you to outline the first trends: half French, half foreigners with ‘ a good proportion of Americans’ (15%) and a third of Europeans.
In the latter, Brexit and Delta variant oblige, ‘the total absence of the British is very noticeable, while they are traditionally the most present clientele’, underlines the president of Sete who, on the other hand, observes a ‘surge in the sphere Mediterranean ‘, Spain and Italy in the lead.
In reservations, very few long-distance travelers like Asians, who go through travel agencies a lot. But between health and weather uncertainties, ‘we will have a lot of tickets sold the same day’, predicts Mr. Martins who is betting on ‘a good half’ of tickets sold in situ.
In this month of July, the famous monument, property of the City of Paris, already closed between March and June 2020 during the first wave, is at a crossroads. The end of its longest period of closure coincides with its recapitalization of 60 million euros, validated Monday, by its board of directors.
This capital increase should allow Sete to overcome the loss of around 70 million euros projected for 2021, after a deficit of 52 million in 2020, when its turnover fell from 99 to 25 million euros. .
This year, after six months of closure and a planned second semester in half-gauge, ‘we could only make 25% of our normal income, in an absolute model,’ emphasizes Mr. Martins.
‘The truth is that we will do less because there are also bad periods’ in the fall, anticipates the leader, in discussions with the State ‘to help us get through the period’ .
In this difficult period, Gustave Eiffel’s masterpiece, which welcomed up to 7 million visitors in 2014 and another 6.2 million in 2019, must also face the logistical challenge of the painting project imposed on it its 132 springs.
Suspended since the beginning of February due to traces of lead above the regulatory threshold, the 20th painting campaign is still in the test phase and will not resume until the fall, which explains the maintenance of a large suspended net on the Champ-de -March.