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The “Iron Lady” in Paris was ordered to close in October; now, tourists can enter after showing a vaccination certificate or testing negative for COVID.

The Eiffel Tower reopened to tourists after being closed for nine months due to the COVID pandemic. This is the longest time the landmark has been closed since World War II.

The lift of the “Iron Lady” once again takes visitors to the top of the 300-meter (1,000-foot) high mountain and enjoy the magnificent view of the French capital while the band plays.

“It’s a gift to come here. We really like Paris,” said Ila from Hamburg, Germany. She and her daughter Helena waited more than two hours before becoming the first person to reach the top of the mountain.

“The tourism industry is returning to Paris, and we can once again share this monument and the joy of Paris with tourists from all over the world,” said Jean-François Martins, head of the tower operating company.

The number of daily visitors to the tower will be limited to 13,000 per day instead of 25,000.

Starting next Wednesday, as COVID cases start to climb again, tourists will need to show a vaccination certificate or negative test, which is in line with the government’s recent requirements.

Martins told AFP: “Obviously, this is an additional operational complexity, but it is controllable.”

France only reopened to international tourists this summer, but the rules vary greatly depending on which country they are from. Given the continued border restrictions and virus risks, the number of tourists is far from the pre-pandemic levels.

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, also welcomed the opening ceremony and encouraged visitors to “rediscover this iconic monument.”

Translation: After being closed for more than 8 months, @LaTourEiffel found its visitors today! The iconic monument of Paris (re)discovered!

Half of the tourists are expected to be French

Pre-booking tickets during the French summer vacation highlights the changes in Paris’ tourism due to travel restrictions.

Martins said that British ticket holders are “almost completely absent”, while only 15% are Americans and very few are from Asia.

It is estimated that half of the tourists are French, and the ratio of Italians and Spaniards is higher than usual.

The long-term closure has caused serious damage to the finances of Sete, the operating company that manages the monument on behalf of the Paris city government.

After revenue drops by 75% to 25 million euros (29 million US dollars) in 2020, the company will seek additional government assistance and new 60 million euros (70 million US dollars) cash injections to maintain its livelihood.

The masterpiece of architect Gustave Eiffel also has problems with his latest paint job, which is the 20th repainting since it was built in 1889.

Due to the detection of high concentrations of lead at the site, which posed a threat to the health of workers, work was stopped in February.

Testing continues, and the painting work will resume in the fall, which means that part of the exterior wall is covered by scaffolding and safety nets.

Fireworks illuminate the Eiffel Tower in Paris during the Bastille Day celebrations on the evening of July 14 [File: Lewis Joly/AP]



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