Jan. 6–Cross-Channel train operator Eurostar is witnessing record passenger levels on its London-Paris route thanks to best-selling book The Da Vinci Code.
Customer numbers have risen 15 percent in the last 12 months to a record 7.27 million passengers carried for the three months to March.
Eurostar says this is largely down to Britons going to Paris to see the landmarks featured in Dan Brown’s tale which spent much of 2004 at the top of the charts.
“The Da Vinci Code effect has been phenomenal,” says Eurostar’s director of communications Paul Charles. “Feedback from travel agents has been that they’re seeing a glut of bookings from fans of the book wanting to retrace its steps.”
The novel focuses on shadowy religious sect Opus Dei and features Parisian landmarks including the Louvre and Saint-Sulpice Church.
The regeneration of Paris in the last few years has also increased the number of passengers on Eurostar’s key route.
It now has a record 68 percent share of the London-Paris travel market and is managing to fend off the lowcost airlines.
Eurostar carried 263,000 passengers over Christmas and New Year, adding to full-year sales of 433 million pounds.
It hopes its French and Belgian operations will reach profitability in the next three years but moving into the black on this side of the Channel will take longer due to higher track-access charges.
Eurostar will also have to find the as-yet-unknown costs of moving its main British terminal from London’s Waterloo station to St Pancras in 2007, although it is predicting an extra 500,000 passengers a year as a result.
Budget airline Ryanair saw passenger figures jump 9 percent in December, bringing its annual number of people carried to 26.6 million.
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