The Big Read: Singapore betting on F1 – will it pay off for a desperate tourism sector?
Could Singapore afford to sign the agreement a year later when the pandemic situation might be more stable?
Mr Raphael Reich, chief executive of sports consultancy Dejavu Consulting, said a growing number of countries are keen to be included in the F1 racing calendar as COVID-19 restrictions ease around the world.
“Securing a seven-year contract is an unprecedented move (for Singapore), but it is also a smart move to lock it in, as there is no guarantee that Singapore will be able to do so later when more more countries will also want to host a Grand Prix,” Reich said.
When Singapore first held a GP in 2008, he noted the cacophony of commentators who questioned the Republic’s desire to host a race. Those voices have slowly faded as people realize that tourism has tangible economic benefits, especially now that the sector is in desperate need of a boost, Reich said.
F1 is watched by more than 930 million viewers worldwide, most of whom follow the championship on television.
“Racing helps put Singapore on the map, so when you go to another country and talk to people, there’s a good chance they’ll recognize Singapore from its skyline along Marina Bay. “, said the Swiss consultant. “There are a lot of good positive vibes seeing this footage on live TV during the race.”
Dr Seshan Ramaswami, an associate professor of marketing education at Singapore Management University, said that with the use of public funds to support the event, an F1 race can be considered. as an “investment in maintaining and growing Singapore’s reputation as a global city with an exciting vibe and vibrancy”.
“The measurable short-term impact in terms of increased economic activity directly related to the event in terms of airline, hotel, catering and retail revenue alone may not justify the investment. However, the case for a potential positive long-term consequence is much more compelling,” said the marketing professor.
As a nighttime race held against the backdrop of an awe-inspiring skyline, the Singapore GP enjoys television and online media coverage among a very specific demographic of young, financially successful and globally mobile decision makers. world, Asia and all over the world, he added.
“It shows Singapore’s organizational expertise, infrastructure, stable government and economy in a very good light,” Dr Ramaswami said.
Mr. James Walton, Head of Travel, Hospitality and Services Sector at Deloitte Singapore, said the seven-year deal is essentially an attempt by Singapore to regain its place as a tourism hub for the region.
“(The F1 contract is) a step in the right direction as we try to come out of the pandemic, and we see how the sport is opening up in Europe and the Americas, where we see full stadiums…I therefore think this is a bold statement, and in part, Singapore hopes to avoid the risk of being left behind,” he said.
Even then, there is a risk that such a strategy could backfire, some experts said. It would depend on a myriad of factors.
On the one hand, it is still possible that the pandemic situation will not have improved by September and October to justify allowing tens of thousands of spectators to mingle and stroll around the Marina Bay circuit per day. .
Mr Walton said this could be the reason organizers opted for a seven-year deal as it would help lower the stakes for this year’s race as the Singapore race organizers have a longer track to do a good job.
“One of the reasons for having a seven-year-old track is that there is probably a feeling among the organizers that there is pent-up demand, and that there are people who want to travel to watch F1. , and local fans who want to watch F1, although that doesn’t necessarily happen in the first year,” Mr Walton said.
The 2022 race could be like a “tester” event for Singapore, he said.