Posted on 04-08-2013
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Dynamic airfares are plunging deeper without a moment’s notice, enticing flyers in India’s low-occupancy Monsoon season. The impact of August is diametrically opposite in my adopted country France. More or less the entire 11 million Parisian population empties out; it’s the start of 5 weeks of paid holiday, most offices, schools, even shops are closed. Replacing residents are foreign tourists, part of the 83 million who flood into France every year, making this the highest tourist arrivals in the world. The second highest attracter is the US with 67 million arrivals; in contrast India welcomed just 6.5 million tourists in 2012.

Visitors to Paris make a beeline to the 1,050ft tall Eiffel Tower erected in 1889. This world’s most recognized monument gets almost 8 million tourists making a meandering queue every year to climb its top floors. A recent study by Italy’s Monza and Brianza Chamber of Commerce has declared Eiffel Tower to be the world’s most valuable monument at €435 billion. Rome’s Coliseum has the next highest brand value of €91 billion, while Tower of London takes third place with €70.5 billion. India’s most visited site, Taj Mahal, gets 3 million visitors per year, less than half of what the venerable ‘Iron Lady’ landmark of Paris pulls in.

Eiffel Tower’s design was originally sketched by engineers Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier with inputs from architect Stephen Sauvestre. They worked for Gustave Eiffel who bought the rights to the design’s patent. He entered this design as a centre-piece for the proposed 1889 Exposition Universelle, planned to celebrate the 1789 French Revolution centennial. He won the contract for this World Fair, but was granted only 1.5 million of the estimated 6.5 million francs required for construction. So Eiffel was allowed to receive all income from the tower’s commercial exploitation during the exhibition and the next 20 years. Even Gandhiji was present in this World Fair. The French “writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris” made a huge hue and cry against this construction. Eiffel allayed their fears saying, “Will it not be grandiose in its way?” that this tallest structural art ever erected by man will use the latest technological knowhow to become a scientific wonder of its time.

When the exposition opened, the tower was an immediate hit with the public; two million visitors bought tickets to climb it then. As per Gustave Eiffel’s permit, the tower was to be dismantled in 1909, and its ownership transferred to Paris City. But plans to tear it down was reversed as, fitted with powerful radio transmitters, it proved valuable to jam German communications during World War I. In fact the beautiful Dutch dancer Mata Hari, a spy for the Germans, was captured when the Eiffel’s radio antenna intercepted a German message in 1915. On decoding it, the French read that H21, her code, had provided information to the Germans. Mata Hari was executed by firing squad in France on espionage charges in 1917.

I‘ll never forget the grandeur I experienced in front of a floodlit Eiffel Tower, under the Paris evening sky, during the 1998 World Cup football where France won and Zidane shot into fame. The majestic, rich and penetrating sound of The 3 Tenors, a name given to Spaniards Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and late Italian Luciano Pavarotti, reverberated the entire area thronged with music and football enthusiasts. These classical music singers set their competitive instincts aside to create an awe-inspiring musical event. I had enjoyed The 3 Tenors in the philharmonic orchestra conducted by the greatest Indian maestro Zubin Mehta in Rome and Los Angeles earlier, both were thrilling, but the electric atmosphere under the Eiffel was truly mesmerizing. Here the Eiffel became not a mere metal backdrop, but a signifying icon that made this French moment unforgettable for a global audience.

In keeping with the times, Eiffel Tower is currently undergoing a €25 million green renovation project to improve its energy performance by 30%. About 20,000 light bulbs that consume 7.8 million kWh of electricity per year are used to sparkle the Tower every night. Solar panels and wind and hydraulically-powered turbines will be installed, but they will not be visible from the ground, nor will the tower’s familiar silhouette change.

Aside from its commercial and physical magnificence, did you know that Eiffel Tower is also sexually attractive? Ask Erika La Tour Eiffel; she’s a mid-30s, former American soldier discharged for psychological reasons, who came from San Francisco to marry this latticed iron structure. In a small intimate ceremony with close friends, she pledged to love, honour and obey it, and even changed her name legally. Erika is Objectum Sexual, an OS person who believes her love with objects is reciprocal. Around 40 people in the world have declared themselves OS, saying they can telepathically communicate with objects and physically have relationships with them. Among other OS objects of desire have been the Berlin Wall, a fairground ride, a church banister and the Empire State Building.

India is yet to attract OS people in spite of having erotic historical monuments. Indian tourism can potentially become the world’s largest due to its 5000-year-old history, variety of geographic features and diversity of heterogeneous people, culture, food and wildlife sanctuaries. If Dubai has attracted 5.5 million tourists in 6 months, January-June 2013, for shopping alone, and Eiffel has fascinated over millions of people to date, why can’t India magnetize the regular visitor to come and spend money? To do so we need set marketing processes and systems in place to connect to different kinds of people with different perspectives in the 5 continents. Tourism could be huge source of income in India for poverty reduction too.

To download above article in PDF Eiffel brand worth is €435 billion

Financial Express link:–435-billion/1150874/0

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