For years couples have attached little padlocks to the bridge as a symbol of their love. Newlyweds or newly engaged couples travel from all over the world and one reason for their visit is to attach a lock to the bridge. But the bridge is collapsing under the weight of hundreds of thousands of locks. The city stepped in and and said “no more”.
I’ve written about this phenomenon before. Sharing experiences, traditions and superstitions are very powerful motivators. People throw coins in fountains, rub statues and kiss rocks for all kinds of reasons, all over the world. These traditions can be very powerful drivers for tourism, how strange this might sound. Travel often lacks a sense of urgency. You can visit most destinations any time in your life. Paris will still be Paris ten years from now. Mona Lisa will still be the same and so will the Eiffel Tower. But with a tradition tied to a life event such as engagement or marriage, the emotional connection acts as a catalyst.
Paris is putting a halt to it. I understand the safety concerns but here’s what I don’t get. They are taking away a strong motivator for travel. Why not give people an alternative? A new place to place a lock. It would be so simple. Hire an artist to create a sculpture with the purpose of attaching locks. Build it in a way you can remove locks from time to time. The coins from the Trevi fountain in Rome are also collected at night. I can guarantee that without an alternative, people will just move on to the next bridge, or not show up at all.