Singapore Still Sees Formula One Allure, Tourism Chief Says

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  • Discussions on Singapore race still ongoing, Yeo says
  • Tourism board sees visitor arrival growth slowing in 2017

Tourism Is Key Economic Driver in Singapore

Singapore is still interested in hosting the Formula One race if the terms are right, and discussions on keeping the event in the Southeast Asian nation are under way, according to the Singapore Tourism Board.

"I think the event is still a good one and I think it’s something we’re interested to look at provided the terms and conditions are right," Lionel Yeo, chief executive officer at Singapore Tourism Board, told Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin Tuesday, when asked if hosting the event makes sense. “The discussions are still ongoing."

Then-Formula One head honcho Bernie Ecclestone suggested the Singapore Grand Prix wouldn’t be extended when the five-year deal expires this year, Today newspaper reported in November, citing an interview with German magazine Auto Motor Und Sport. The F1 has since been taken over by Liberty Media Corp.

"We should move away from the mindset that the F1 should be here just so we can bring in a certain number of tourists every year," said Irvin Seah, a senior economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore. "You must look beyond the numbers. It’s about the branding, overall image of Singapore in the global tourism landscape."

Ecclestone, a former used-car salesman, turned a disparate collection of races into a premium global sporting property, drawing millions of television viewers and a branding opportunity for new race hosts like Bahrain, Russia and Azerbaijan. The race has been a highlight of the tourism calendar in Singapore, with entertainers such as Beyonce and Mariah Carey performing at the sidelines of the sporting event.

To read an interview with the F1’s new CEO, click here

Singapore tourism board is now forecasting slower growth in tourist arrivals this year amid global economic and political uncertainties and stiffer competition from neighbors in the region.

Visitors may increase zero percent to 2 percent in 2017, according to the Singapore Tourism Board. Growth was 7.7 percent last year with a record 16.4 million tourists led by visitors from China, India and Indonesia.

“We want to temper our expectations because we are fully cognizant of the fact that there are political and economic uncertainties which may have an impact on outbound travel,” Yeo said at a briefing Tuesday.

Singapore plans to remake Orchard Road, its main shopping district, develop more family-friendly attractions and boost marketing, the tourism board said in a statement. Tourism has been one of the bright spots in an economy hit by a slump in global trade. The industry makes up about 4 percent of gross domestic product and has grown since the city-state opened its first two casino resorts in 2010.

Tourism receipts rose 13.9 percent to a record S$24.8 billion ($17.4 billion) in 2016. The introduction of the Michelin Guide Singapore as well as events which Singapore hosted, including the inaugural HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and music festival Ultra Singapore, helped boost spending.

Singapore forecast tourism receipts may rise 1 percent to 4 percent this year to as much as S$25.8 billion. The government last week unveiled a slew of strategies aimed at driving growth in the next decade.

— With assistance by Haslinda Amin, Sterling Wong, David Roman, and Anand Menon

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