PARIS -- No doubt the first thing that comes to mind for many when they think of Paris is the Eiffel Tower. Or maybe the Louvre. But when it comes to tourist revenue, neither can hold a candle to ‘Euro Disney,’ which has attracted a quarter billion visitors since opening its doors here 20 years ago. That’s about the same number of paid customers the Eiffel Tower has received since its grand opening – in 1889.

Now called Disneyland-Paris, the amusement park is an almost exact replica of its namesake in Anaheim, California. There’s nothing remotely French about it. Tant pis! People love it anyway. According to a study carried out by the research firm Setec, 15.7 million visited the park last year, making it France’s number one tourist destination. The Louvre and Eiffel Tower, in contrast, drew some 8.8 million and 7.1 million paid visitors respectively.

Foreigners are particularly fond of the park – especially British, Dutch and German tourists. Together they have spent some 37 billion euros in France over the past two decades. But the French frequent Disneyland-Paris as well, accounting for roughly 42% of its customers.

Not everyone, however, is completely charmed by popular park. The Setec study estimates that the American venture has created some 55,000 direct and indirect jobs since its April 12, 1992 inauguration. But Mickey doesn't pay so well. Right now the park employs approximately 14,700 people, many as servers and shop clerks, who earn between 1,100 and 1,300 euros per month. And while Disneyland-Paris does pay taxes – roughly 5.33 billion euros worth over the past two decades – the bulk of its earnings go straight to Mickey’s motherland, the United States.

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Photo – MagPhoto2011

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