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Eiffel Tower shut due to staff strike, refunds for ticket holders.

Photo-Gulf Today

The Eiffel Tower, an iconic symbol of Paris and one of the world's most visited tourist attractions, faced a second consecutive day of closure on Tuesday due to a strike by staff protesting the monument's financial management. Union representatives indicated that the closure might extend into Wednesday as well. The strike, initiated on Monday, highlights concerns over the financial management practices of the tower's operator, SETE.

SETE has advised ticket holders to consult its website before planning a visit or consider postponing their trip. E-ticket holders have been instructed to check their email for updates and further instructions. Additionally, the operator assured that ticketholders would be reimbursed for any inconvenience caused by the closure.

This strike marks the second labor stoppage at the Eiffel Tower within a span of two months, driven by similar grievances. Unions have criticized SETE's business model, alleging inflated projections of future visitor numbers and underestimations of construction costs. They also call for increased financial support from the city of Paris to ensure the monument's maintenance and upkeep.

The Eiffel Tower typically welcomes nearly seven million visitors annually, with a significant portion comprising international tourists. Despite experiencing a decline in visitor numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the tower saw a resurgence in 2022, reaching 5.9 million visitors, and an estimated 6.3 million visitors in the previous year. Anticipating an influx of tourists during the upcoming Olympic Games hosted by Paris, the strike raises concerns about potential disruptions to tourism.

In response to union demands, city officials have been urged to engage in negotiations to address financial concerns and secure the monument's future. However, union representatives express frustration over the lack of dialogue and cooperation from city authorities, indicating a prolonged standoff.

The financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated challenges for the Eiffel Tower, leading to a reported shortfall of approximately 120 million euros over 2020 and 2021. While the operator received a recapitalization of 60 million euros, unions argue that this amount is insufficient to cover necessary maintenance work, including essential renovations such as repainting the structure.

As negotiations continue between unions, SETE, and city officials, the fate of the Eiffel Tower remains uncertain, underscoring the importance of addressing financial concerns to preserve this iconic landmark for future generations.

Feb. 22, 2024 3:26 p.m. 2353

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