SINGAPORE — Two months ahead of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix (GP) weekend — which starts tonight — the Smoke & Mirrors bar was already planning for the three-day event.
All of its outdoor tables, which face the race action, sold out weeks in advance of what is usually its most highly anticipated event every year.
Full-time staff work longer hours while more part-timers are taken on to cater to the surge in demand, bar manager Koo Chee Wai said.
Like Smoke & Mirrors, many bars and hotels near the race circuit have seen an increase in takings as the marquee event raised their profile over the years.
Even with the Singapore GP heading into its tenth year this weekend, hotel rooms facing the track are still being snapped up months before the event.
The Singapore GP has also brought more tourists here.
They often stay on after the race to enjoy other experiences in Singapore, hotel representatives say. The Grand Park City Hall — a hotel close to the race circuit — is usually full during the F1 weekend, according to Mr Tejveer Singh Bedi, group revenue director for Park Hotel Group which manages the property.
He added that the hotel receives enquiries as early as one year before the race.
At another trackside hotel, Mandarin Oriental, room occupancies are expected to be high for the Friday-to-Sunday race weekend, according to its director of communications Ms Usha Brockman. The clientele consists of “a good mix” of corporate and independent guests, including Singaporeans, she said.
As the Singapore GP enters the final year of its current five-year deal, hotels and the Singapore Nightlife Business Association (SNBA) — which represents a total of 443 operators — are calling for the contract to be renewed.
Its president Dennis Foo said this year must not be the last for the Singapore GP.
“F1 Singapore GP took the world’s top racing event to another level,” he said. “Not only is Singapore’s night race the first in the world, it added a new dimension to the racing world. With it, Singapore attracted so many top international artistes to its concert event. The F1 needs Singapore as much as we need them.
“Now that Malaysia’s Sepang circuit is no longer continuing with their F1, if Singapore carries on, we will be the only F1 race in the region and will have even better turnouts.”
Since its debut in 2008, the Singapore GP has boosted the Republic’s tourism sector, attracting more than 350,000 international visitors over the past eight races — excluding the 2009 race — and generating an average of nearly S$150 million in incremental tourism receipts each year, the Singapore Tourism Board said.
The year 2009 was an anomaly, with the economy careening into a recession amid the global financial crisis.
Asked by TODAY about the status of contract negotiations, a Ministry of Trade and Industry spokesperson said: “We are in discussions with Formula One on the term renewal for F1 and are carefully considering several issues. More details will be shared when ready.”