Singapore is gearing up to host one of the most anticipated sporting events of 2008, Formula One’s first ever night race. The three day long landmark event will start on 26 September and is expected to attract 50,000 visitors from abroad.
The start and finish area of the 5.067km long Marina Bay track
Twenty drivers, 10 teams, a road race as in Monaco, loads of glamour – the stage is set for Formula One to race once again. But this Grand Prix is going to be unusual. It will take place in the night under floodlights. An unprecedented experience even for top drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and the others as none of them have ever raced at night before.
Singapore, which is hosting this historic event, has arranged 1,500 flood lights to illuminate the course at the weekend.
Boosting the appeal
The landmark event will help boost the city-state’s tourism, which has been on the decline for the third straight month amid the global economic crisis and the fuel price hike.
Muhammad Rostam Bin Umar from the Singapore tourism board sees it also as an opportunity to boost the city-state’s appeal. “We are fairly strong in terms of our position as a business destination. But an event like F1 will help ramp up our image as a vibrant, exciting destination.”
During the Formula One week, an estimated 50,000 visitors are expected to arrive in Singapore to watch the event live. Another 100 million are likely to watch it on TV. Lifestyle events, concerts, a river festival and a motor show as well as an after-race party with an entrance ticket worth around 470 Euros will add to the bonanza.
Exorbitant hotel prices
However many hotels in the city have not been fully booked, particularly the hotels situated near the race track. The reason is the exorbitant prices. One suite with a view at the track currently costs around 7,000 Euros. And a package for the whole of the Formula One week costs around 35,000 Euros.
High room rates have put off many tourists, forcing some hotels to lower their prices. Muhammad Rostam Bin Umar from the tourism board thinks the event should be used as a learning experience. “This is the first time that we are hosting this event so many hoteliers don’t know how to price themselves. There is a learning process and they are adjusting now to make sure that they get the right mix of people.”
Singapore has a contract to host the race for five years, with an option to extend to 2017. Officials estimate the event will help generate around 100 million Singapore dollars or around 48 million Euros a year in tourism revenue.
Along with the Formula One night race, it plans to build new attractions including two casinos which are likely to open by the end of 2009 to attract more tourists across the globe.