The Eiffel Tower, the world’s most visited landmark, is to introduce online ticketing in a bid to cut waiting times of up to two hours for its seven million annual visitors, operators have announced.
Pre-paid internet tickets for groups will be on sale from next year, the monument’s 120th anniversary, the tower’s operators said as they unveiled plans to modernise the iron edifice over the coming decade.
The windy zone where tourists now queue up is to be entirely refurbished.
The renovation plan, to be completed by 2015, plans to attract more Parisians – who currently account for just two percent of visitors. The operators also want to draw more school groups and disabled people to the attraction.
As part of the makeover, a champagne bar will be built on the third floor of the tower, which rises 710 feet above the Paris skyline. There will also be a wider array of tourist shops.
Designed by the engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built for the 1889 universal exhibition in Paris. After being panned as a monstrosity by many Parisians, it nevertheless was not taken down after 20 years, as originally planned.
It was first used as a radio communications tower before it became a hugely popular landmark and an emblem of Paris and France.