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Eiffel Tower Shuts Down Amidst Staff Strike, Visitors Disappointed

 Photo : AFP

The Eiffel Tower, an iconic symbol of Paris and one of the world's top tourist attractions, found itself closed on a Monday due to a strike initiated by the staff protesting the financial management practices of the monument's operator, SETE. This strike marks the second such occurrence within a mere two months, underscoring the ongoing discontent among the workers.

SETE, the organization responsible for overseeing the operations of the Eiffel Tower, acknowledged the disruption on its official website. Potential visitors were advised to stay updated by checking the website for real-time information or to consider postponing their planned visits. E-ticket holders were specifically instructed to monitor their emails for any pertinent updates regarding their visits.

The primary bone of contention raised by the unions, including CGT and FO, revolves around their criticism of SETE's business model. The unions allege that the financial management of the monument is based on an inflated projection of future visitor numbers while simultaneously underestimating the actual construction costs involved. This dispute reflects a deeper concern about the sustainability and long-term viability of the Eiffel Tower and the entity operating it.

The closure of the Eiffel Tower is not merely an isolated incident; rather, it compounds the challenges faced by the tourism industry in Paris. This sector has been grappling with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a sharp decline in visitor numbers due to closures and travel restrictions. Although there was a recovery in 2022 with 5.9 million visitors, the looming prospect of increased tourism during the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris adds a layer of complexity to the situation.

In a joint statement, the CGT and FO unions called upon the city of Paris to exercise reason in their financial demands, emphasizing the importance of ensuring the survival of both the iconic monument and the company responsible for its operation. As the unions and management engage in a standoff, the closure of the Eiffel Tower serves as a visible manifestation of the broader challenges facing the tourism industry in Paris and the delicate balance between financial sustainability and preserving cultural landmarks.

Feb. 24, 2024 5:21 p.m. 1495

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