About 20,000 people a day, like in the good old days. Helped by the weather, “these school holidays and sunny weekends have confirmed the attractiveness of the tower on the French and nearby European market”, underlines the elected representative of the PS group at the Paris Council.
The strong comeback of Europeans (60%), the “good presence of Americans” (17%) and the French, a “real novelty” (15%), are the strong trends after two closures, with a cumulative duration of a year, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
– Goal 5.5 million –
What partially compensate for the slow recovery of tour operators and the absence of “distant markets”, in particular Asians: the Eiffel Tower, which has welcomed 1.6 million visitors since the start of the year, is aiming for 5.5 million admissions for 2022, “i.e. 10% less than in 2019”, the last reference year.
“It may seem extremely positive, but the 10% that is missing is our margin,” summarizes Mr. Martins. And if the deficit for 2021 was lower than expected thanks to “a good end of the year” – 43 million instead of 70, after 52 million in 2020 -, the Sete “should still have a difficult year” financially in 2022 .
After a first recapitalization of 60 million euros in 2021, “this new deficit situation will very probably require a new recapitalization” by the shareholders, the City of Paris (99%) and the Greater Paris Metropolis (1%), “of which the amount remains to be determined,” said Mr. Martins, who still hopes for specific state aid.
Especially since the monument is still struggling with its 20th painting campaign, which aims to restore its original “yellow-brown” color for the 2024 Olympic Games. From 50 million euros at the start, the cost has climbed to 92 million, indicates its leader who keeps the objective of completing the operation “if possible before the Games”.
The outer faces of three of the four pillars will be completed in the spring or summer and the large scaffolding installed on the Champ-de-Mars side will be removed before July 14, Sete told AFP.
Started in 2019, the operation was complicated and slowed down by the discovery of traces of lead in the previous layers. This health threat “remains the subject of major concern for the painting site, which justifies that we take 114 samples per week, including 92 in public areas”, underlines the former deputy for sport and tourism.
“As soon as there is a rate above the norm, we clean up and try to understand. We check that all of this remains under control, below the thresholds”, defends Mr. Martins after the report made by the mayor LR of the VIIth district Rachida Dati with the public prosecutor, at the end of April.
– A week of controversy –
A report that occurred in the middle of a week of turmoil for the Eiffel Tower, which began with a controversy over Emmanuel Macron’s re-election speech, which obtained from the City to deliver it on the Champ-de-Mars, but no see the Iron Lady sparkle in advance.
The next day, a major police operation came to hunt pickpockets, street vendors or hat players, the main acts of crime on the site. “The problem is real, both for our visitors and for our collaborators”, recognizes Mr. Martins who calls for a “permanent” police presence.
Last controversy: the reversal of the town hall, in front of the mobilization of environmental defenders, on the planned felling of around twenty trees, some of which are centenarians, at the foot of the tower in order to build luggage lockers and premises for employees.
The commitment not to cut them down “forces us to review the project”, concedes Mr. Martins for whom the Sete “has vital needs to accommodate (its) teams” temporarily installed in modules. As for luggage, “desirable” but not “necessary”, “we haven’t had any for 133 years, we may survive a few more years.”