Race for dominance: night event lights up tourism and showcases Singapore’s many attractions
The Grand Prix, watched by 570 million international viewers, raises the city state’s profile as a business centre and brings with it a rush of adrenaline-fuelled visitors
ince its debut in 2008, the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix has given the city state a glamorous glow and a significant bump in tourism revenue. The numbers connected with the unique night street race have been impressive. The race has attracted more than 300,000 visitors to Singapore between 2008 and 2014 and generated an average of nearly S$150 million (HK$864 million) incremental tourism receipts each year.
“With a broadcast coverage reaching more than 570 million international viewers over the last seven races, the race has also helped showcase Singapore as a beautiful, vibrant and attractive destination to a global audience,” says the Singapore Tourism Board’s director of sports, Jean Ng.
The charm of the race lies in its uniqueness. It remains the first and only Formula One night street race, with the action in the heart of the city. Singapore’s beautifully-lit skyline offers the event an almost picture-perfect backdrop. The benefits spill far beyond the race track. Hotels in the downtown area usually report an uptick in occupancy and restaurants and shops welcome the influx of tourists.
The city’s famous Orchard Road shopping belt “generally experiences a spike in visitors during the race season”, saidSteven Goh, executive director of the Orchard Road Business Association, in a report in Singapore’s The Straits Times.
Organisers have come up with the Grand Prix Season Singapore (GPSS), which is a line-up of events that include dining, retail and entertainment. It aims to showcase Singapore’s vibrant lifestyle options.
Last year, for instance, snazzy restaurants such as Candlenut and Bacchanalia were featured, along with the city’s growing list of refurbished museums.
“Businesses have seen GPSS as a great opportunity to collaborate and innovate, many of which have come forth with new or enhanced offerings that have translated to substantial commercial benefits,” Ng says.
The draw of the fast cars even extends to the meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions sector of tourism. In previous years, think tanks and businesses have chosen to hold their forums and summits in Singapore, around the Formula One week.
For local businesses, the race has also presented much cheer, especially in the back-end operations of the mega event. “Our small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] have also been actively involved in race preparations and operations, such as circuit set-up, ticketing and security services, with over 80 per cent of Singapore Grand Prix’s race organisation being sub-contracted annually to these SMEs,” Ng says.
“In addition, positive economic spin-offs have benefited businesses, where MNCs [multinational corporations] and local companies leverage the race as an attractive occasion for corporate gatherings and meetings.”
Analysts believe the net benefits of holding the race far outweigh its cost. BCG Singapore’s managing director, Jeffrey Chua, told The Straits Times in 2014: “There are clear, significant ... benefits from the exposure ... [potential] increases in tourism, investment, jobs. Induced impact from increased tourism alone is more than S$1 billion over 10 years.”