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Eiffel Tower closed again as staff extend strike | National

by Staff

The Eiffel Tower, one of the world’s top tourist attractions, remained closed for a second straight day Tuesday as staff extended a strike over the monument’s financing.

There was every chance that the monument would also stay shuttered on Wednesday, a union representative told AFP.

The strike started Monday in protest over the way the monument is managed financially.

The tower’s operator, SETE, has advised ticket holders to check its website before showing up, or to postpone their visit. E-ticket holders were asked to check their e-mails for further information.

Ticketholders will be reimbursed, the operator said.

The stoppage is the second strike at the Eiffel Tower within two months for the same reason.

Unions have criticised operator SETE for its business model that they say is based on an inflated estimate of future visitor numbers, while under-estimating construction costs.

They also want the city of Paris to stump up more funds to keep the landmark in good repair.

The Eiffel Tower — Paris’s most famous landmark — attracts nearly seven million visitors a year, around three-quarters of them foreigners, according to its website.

During the Covid pandemic numbers dropped sharply due to closures and travel restrictions, but recovered to 5.9 million in 2022. Last year, it attracted 6.3 million visitors.

Visitor numbers to Paris are expected to swell this summer as the French capital hosts the Olympic Games.

In a joint statement Monday, the CGT and FO unions called on the city of Paris “to be reasonable with their financial demands to ensure the survival of the monument and the company operating it”.

Alexandre Leborgne, a representative for the hard-left CGT labour union, told AFP that city hall, which is the majority owner of the monument, “refuses to negotiate for now”.

Another CGT representative, Stephane Dieu, said there was “no chance of a solution overnight” to Wednesday.

City officials “refuse to even meet with us”, Dieu said.

The Eiffel Tower booked a shortfall of around 120 million euros ($130 million) during the Covid crisis in 2020 and 2021.

The operator has since received a recapitalisation of 60 million euros, which unions say is insufficient given that major maintenance work is needed, including a fresh paint job.

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