The Eiffel Tower returned to receive tourists this Friday (16), after eight and a half months of closure due to restrictions to contain the pandemic. It was its longest period of closure since World War II (1939-1945).
The reopening took place at noon local time. A fanfare greeted the first visitors, who gathered by the dozen at the entrance. For now, the tower will accommodate up to 13,000 people per day. Before the pandemic, it admitted about 25,000. Before the pandemic, the tower was the most visited paid monument in the world, receiving about seven million people per year.
Tower elevators are operating at 50% of their capacity. Tourists can climb to the top of the tower and see the French capital 300 meters high. “It’s a gift to be here. We love Paris,” said Ila, who traveled from Hamburg, Germany, and waited over two hours with her daughter Helena to be one of the first to climb to the top. top of the iconic monument.
More than 70,000 tickets have already been sold in advance on the internet, for visits until the end of August. Half of them were bought by the French. Before the pandemic, foreigners accounted for 80% of visits. There has also been an increase in demand from Italian and Spanish tourists, and a decrease in demand from British and Asian tourists, due to travel restrictions. American tourists represent 15% of bookings
From next Wednesday (21), visitors will have to present proof of vaccination, or a negative test for the coronavirus, in accordance with the requirements recently imposed by the French government, given the increase in Covid-19 infections.
“Obviously, it’s an additional operational complication, but it’s manageable,” Jean François Martins, director of the company that manages the Eiffel Tower, told AFP. The company is running a deficit of 120 million euros (R $ 722 million) due to the closure of the attraction.
The monument must undergo a new painting soon, to compensate for the wear of time. The monument, which is 132 years old, was built on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1889, held in Paris, which marked the centenary of the French Revolution.
At the time, a competition was launched to study the possibility of erecting an iron tower 300 meters high. Among 107 proposals, that led by engineer Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) was retained. Eiffel, who gave the tower its name, also participated in the design of another famous monument, the Statue of Liberty in New York.
The French tower would only be a temporary attraction, which should be dismantled in 20 years. Its salvation was not due to tourism, but to practical use: antennas could be installed there, at a time when communication by radio waves was emerging. Today one of the most beloved icons of France, the tower rises to 324 meters.