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Racing ahead with Formula One

Publication Date : 26-09-2012


Singapore's hosting of the Formula One Grand Prix until 2017 is being received differently here, fraught as it is with cost-benefit factors that do not lend themselves to precise measurement.

The race's cheerleaders point to the winning aspects of the event - a combination of clockwork efficiency, a Singapore trademark, and thrills. Spectators, whether in the stands or around the world, see not just the sleek cars but also the brilliant Singapore night skyline.

The association can heighten the incalculable brand value and recognition of the nation. As the race and the place have what it takes to pique the interest of ordinary tourists, globe-trotters, managers and business owners, those who might not have had any dealings with Singapore before might well be prompted to venture here.

Doubters, however, have asked if the city-state is getting as much out of the event as it should in hard cost-benefit terms. The event also inflicts social costs as commuters have to endure road closures and the inconveniences of barricades. Some businesses in the area lose money when customers avoid the place as the free flow of traffic is disrupted.

The race - which costs about S$150 million (US$121 million) a year, with the government paying 60 per cent - is said to more than pay for itself, with tourist receipts amounting to about S$150 million for each race weekend. One study projects that Singapore stands to gain S$1 billion in net economic output over a decade and an equal amount from more tourism and investment.

Whatever the shade of opinion on Singapore's participation, there is no doubt that, on balance, the race is to Singapore what the Olympics and the Fifa World Cup are to their host cities, with the added advantage that it is an annual affair. A careful study was made before the decision to continue was taken. As with other economic bets of substantial value, the most helpful way to move forward now would be to take a long-term perspective and maximise the returns.

More here can capitalise on Formula One's drawing power to help make September an irresistible time to be in Singapore. It takes a world-class event to create significant buzz and this can be churned to boost participation in other events held around the same time. Music festivals, shows and conferences can also ride on the the race, with the promise of an exciting time here for visitors over a longer period. Importantly, there is also a crucial need to introduce innovations into the race itself before other venues copy Singapore's night race concept.

Singapore is already well placed on the Formula One global map.

Now, the event should be tapped for more economic spin-offs on the Singapore map.

*US$1=1.2 Singapore dollar 


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