Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone has hit out at the $40 cost of tickets to access London’s Shard Tower, the new attraction 95-percent funded by Qatar, which is forecast to attract up to a million visitors in the first year when its observation deck opens to the public on February 1.
“We’re aiming for a million visitors a year and I think we’ll achieve it,” Andy Nyberg, chief executive of The View From the Shard and a former director of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, told Bloomberg.
“We’ve been on sale since July and we’ve well surpassed our expectations. We’ve sold tens and tens of thousands [of tickets]. We’re recommending people book about ten days in advance because we don’t want them to be disappointed,” he added.
The 309.6m tower, located on London’s South Bank and the tallest building in Western Europe, has observation decks on levels 69 to 72 and will give visitors views of the London skyline, including the Olympic Stadium, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Battersea Power Station and Wembley Stadium.
However, some high-profile critics have hit out at the price of tickets, which will be 24.95 pounds ($40) for adults and 18.95 pounds for children.
Ken Livingstone, former major of London from 2000 to 2008 and a strong advocate of the Shard, said the ticket prices were too expensive and he called on current major Boris Johnson to subsidise access to the tower.
"I saw the Shard as being like the Empire State Building," Livingstone told The Observer newspaper.
"Unfortunately everything in London is expensive and the job of the mayor should be to reduce some of the effects on people. We are living in a dual world in London where half the people cannot afford to visit places like the Shard. This is why we campaigned for so long to have free museums," he added.
While mayor, Livingstone pushed for all London museums to be free of charge and introduced a scheme where all schoolchildren would get at least one free ticket to the London Zoo.
"If I were mayor, I would extend the London Zoo scheme to include the Shard to ensure that it can be enjoyed by more people," he said.
Joanna Kirby, the publisher of the Rough Guide to London, agreed and told the Guardian newspaper: "The Shard viewing platform is very expensive compared to similar 'towers with views' worldwide and other London attractions that offer a view.”