Eiffel Tower to reopen after longest closure since Second World War
Paris's most famous landmark is preparing to reopen as France's tourism industry restarts
Preparations are being made to reopen the Eiffel Tower next week, after the coronavirus pandemic led to its longest closure since the Second World War.
As France prepares to welcome tourists once again, the Paris landmark will reopen with strict new measures in place to ensure the safety of visitors.
Only limited numbers of people will be allowed in when the 324-meter wrought-iron tower opens on Thursday, June 25. However, visitors must be prepared to take the 1,665 steps up, as elevators to the top will initially be out of service. Only the first and second floors will be accessible to the public.
All visitors over the age of 11 will be required to wear face masks, and crowd control measures will be in place.
“We are optimistic that visitor numbers will pick up, even if it will likely be local tourists who visit the monument in the first weeks,” said Victoria Klahr, the spokeswoman for the tower’s management.
Tower officials said on Tuesday that they hoped access would be back to normal by August.
Ahead of the reopening, a stringent cleaning operation is in place and will continue daily from next week.
“There is a new protocol," said Eiffel Tower hygiene consultant Alain Miralles. "The day cleaning teams will be able to clean all the points of contact every two hours, from the opening of the site to its closing.”
Tourists planning trips to the City of Light are advised to book tickets to visit the Eiffel Tower online once the ticket office reopens on Thursday.
Paris tourism officials have expressed muted optimism about the city’s re-emergence as a travel destination. Since confinement measures were imposed in March, tourism levels have dropped by around 80 per cent compared to the same month in previous years.
“To visit Paris now is quite exceptional, as we of course don’t have many visitors and we don’t expect this summer to be at the same level as previous ones,” Corinne Menegaux, the director of Paris’s businesses and tourism office, said.
Hotel owners are also keen to welcome visitors again, if realistic about the challenges ahead and the competition among European countries to draw tourists back in the coronavirus era.
“Everyone in Europe is looking to draw the European clientele. The Italians want to bring in the French, the Germans want to attract the Danes," said Serge Cachan, president of France's Astotel Group. He pointed out the plexiglass protections in the reception area of one of his hotel’s measures to ensure social distancing.
He welcomed the French president's decision Sunday to let Paris restaurants reopen earlier than planned. “Without restaurants, there is no conviviality, there is no tourism, there are no clients in hotels,” he said.
"The message I would like to on-pass to the city of Paris is: Hurry and open up all of the tourist attractions and activities.”
Updated: June 17, 2020 10:20 AM