What will Turkey do about Hagia Sophia’s $72 million loss in annual ticket sales? - columnist
Swedish company SICPA maintains the operating rights to the Hagia Sophia for another seven years and is set to suffer losses linked to the museum’s $72 million in annual ticket sales, Dünya columnist Kerim Ülker said on Monday.
In 2018, SICPA successfully bid $3.9 billion to win a tender for operating over 50 museums and archaeological sites for nine years, including Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia, Ülker said.
On Friday, Turkey’s highest administrative court annulled a 1934 decree that converted the Hagia Sophia from a mosque to a museum, reverting it back into a mosque, much to the protest of Western governments and institutions.
Originally built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral in 537 A.D., the structure is one of Turkey’s top attractions that maintained the highest museum ticket prices in the country.
Foreign tourists were charged 100 lira ($14.58) while night passes in the museum were 2,500 lira ($364,45), bringing the museum’s revenue from annual ticket sales to as high as $73 million, Ülker said.
Hagia Sophia garnered more income as a museum than combined toll fees collected at Istanbul’s bridges, the Yeniçağ columnist said.
“How will the void be filled for the $72 million ticket sales for the former museum?’’ Ülker asked.“Will there be a new agreement for the losses to be incurred by SICPA over the next seven years?’'