The Atomium is ailing through the corona crisis. Its books show a deficit of 3 million euros this year. The not-for-profit organisation that runs the edifice saw no other alternative than to go cap in hand to the authorities because all reserves are exhausted.
Brussels finance minister Sven Gatz (Flemish liberal) took to Twitter to announce the region’s decision: “The Brussels Region – just like the City of Brussels – is releasing a million euros to allow the Atomium, the symbol of Brussels, to continue to shine, also after the corona crisis. This support is urgently needed as foreign tourists are staying away”.
The Atomium generates most of its income from tourists and does not draw many subsidies.
“It’s above all thanks to ticket sales that we thrive” says Zoubiba Jellab, the president of the not-for-profit organisation Atomium. “They make up 98% of our income. We haven’t seen any tourists for months. The Atomium has been closed since October. It is a catastrophe. We hope we can reopen, in a couple of weeks.”
The Atomium was constructed at the time of the 1958 Brussels World Fair and consists of nine spheres that represented the nine Belgian provinces of this day. The landmark symbolises a unit cell of an iron crystal and the strength resulting from unity in this country.