Many French and foreign visitors have been waiting for it for eight and a half months, its longest post-war closure: The Eiffel Tower reopened with fanfare on Friday with half as many visitors per day, Covid requires.

“Tourism is returning to Paris and we can rediscover the happiness of sharing, with all visitors from around the world, this monument and Paris”, rejoiced the president of Sete Jean-François Martins, questioned by the French and foreign press immediately after the opening of the counters between two feet of the Iron Lady.

Reception capacity has been reduced to 50%, i.e. a maximum of 13,000 visitors per day, due in particular to the sanitary gauge imposed in the elevators in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic.

And from Wednesday, in accordance with what 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 Jean-François Martins, it is “inevitable”. “Obviously, this is a little additional operational complexity to implement in a few days, but it is not insurmountable”, he relativizes.

Americans back

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 the Delta variant oblige, “The total absence of the British is very noticeable, whereas they are traditionally the most present clientele”, underlines the president of Sete who observes on the other hand a “thrust of the Mediterranean sphere”, Spain and Italy in the lead.

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In reservations, very few long-distance travelers like Asians, who go through travel agencies a lot. But between health and meteorological 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.

The state to the rescue?

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. .

In this difficult period, Gustave Eiffel’s masterpiece, which welcomed up to 7 million visitors in 2014 and still 6.2 million in 2019, must also face the logistical challenge of the painting project imposed on it by its 132 spring.

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 scaffolding on the Champ-de- March.

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