F1 in Singapore—Up until 2020, May Tailor’s Madam Bai Hong Mei and her coworkers would go into overdrive during the annual Formula One (F1) race week in September to sew and hem formal attire for the attendees.
While her phone would never go unanswered, she’d have a full schedule filled with last-minute orders to match her customers’ expectations. As a result of tourists’ buying sprees and the F1 race in Singapore, receipts were expected to rise by at least 20% during that week-long period. “The sheer volume of work required is staggering. Fashion stores often recommend us to tourists who need custom suits and outfits. All of our enterprises have been boosted as a result of the race,” stated Ms. Bai in Mandarin.
It’s been 16 years since the former Hugo Boss tailor started her own alterations business, and she now has many locations, one of which is at the Marina Bay Sands.
Impact of the Pandemic on F1 in Singapore
Mdm Bai had previously enjoyed a bustling business, but the epidemic had taken a toll over the past two years. The Singapore Grand Prix (SGP), scheduled to take place in 2020 and 2021, was canceled due to the COVID-19 scandal. Night racing in Formula One will return to Singapore in September of this year, ending a two-year sabbatical from the F1 schedule. This is the most extended F1 contract extension, announced by race organizers and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on January 27.
Hospitality and tourism industries and merchants such as May Tailor have reaped the benefits of the news that the Grand Prix will be held in the city, which hasn’t been well-documented in economic impact studies. A total of S$1.5 billion has been produced in additional tourism earnings from F1 races held in Singapore since its debut in 2008. F1 attracted more than 550,000 visitors worldwide, and the majority of the race’s operations are outsourced to Singapore-based corporations on an annual basis.
With Liberty Media’s acquisition of F1’s commercial rights in 2016, the sport has also appealed to younger fans.
This organization has organized an esports race competition with F1 drivers and co-producing the Netflix documentary series Drive to Survive.
In the wake of Sebastian Vettel’s criticisms about the sport’s lack of environmental responsibility, Formula One has taken a more environmentally friendly attitude. An extensive “sustainable audit” will be carried out for the Singapore Grand Prix, including a shift toward renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.
F1 in Singapore to Raise Economic Advantage
STB CEO Keith Tan reaffirmed the agency’s belief that the race will continue to provide considerable economic advantages and global branding value for Singapore. “Throughout the years, the event has attracted tourists worldwide and offered employment and educational possibilities for the local population, he said.
According to an SGP representative, interest in the event has been “overwhelmingly positive” 24 hours following the announcement that the Singapore race is returning. Priority registration for early bird tickets has already begun on the company’s website.
In light of the sold-out crowd in 2019, we hope to maintain a high level of attendance in the future.”
Race fans on online racing forums are giddy with anticipation following STB’s declaration that the Singapore race will be one of F1’s most high-profile events since its inception.
The founder of Malaysia’s Axle Sports racing academy, former Formula One driver Alex Yoong, expressed his excitement at Singapore’s return to the calendar. It’s a big deal for the area, and it’s also one of my personal favorites.” The hazards of a seven-year contract renewal during an uncertain moment, right after the 2020 and 2021 events had to be scuppered, are acknowledged by sports consultants and business experts.
This year’s race is less than eight months away, and COVID-19 is unlikely to be controlled by then, so the planners have the most significant obstacle in planning a live music festival on the sidelines of the track, which has become a fixture of many F1 races around the world.
Due to travel limitations and F1’s attractiveness to Singaporeans, who generally make up 60% of the race audience, there are also doubts about crowd participation. A “high-risk, high-return activity” is how NUS Business School Professor Lawrence Loh describes an F1 race.
Prof Loh cited the deportation of unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic from the Australian Open and the political overtones surrounding the upcoming Chinese Winter Olympics as evidence that this is especially true in light of the recent global attention paid to any significant sporting controversies.
All eyes will be on a race weekend that, according to Prof Loh, could be the most difficult to organize of the past 12 Singapore Grands Prix because of the high stakes and the necessity to prioritize the health and safety of all participants, fans, and the community.
There is still time until September for preparing, he said, adding that the race “coincides with the first open window in which Singapore can demonstrate that it can recover quickly from the pandemic.” “There is no better time than now.” SGP and STB raised a few eyebrows by announcing that they had signed an agreement to extend the Singapore Grand Prix for seven more years, from 2022 to 2028, in the face of F1 event cancellations and compromises required by the epidemic.
Singapore has already signed three Formula One contracts. The first contract, signed in 2008, was for five years, as was the second in 2012. Singapore inked a four-year renewal agreement in 2017 that would expire in 2021.
F1 has long-term hosting agreements as part of the sport’s business model. Formula One’s Monaco Grand Prix inked a 10-year contract with the Monaco Grand Prix in 2010. Qatar is also said to have inked a 10-year agreement starting in 2023.
F1 in Singapore Continues to Attract the Public
In the next seven years, several variables could arise, some of which could be detrimental to Singapore hosting an F1 race, according to Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon of NUS Business School’s Department of Marketing.
“F1’s appeal to the general public may wane, and new entertainment events may compete with F1 for viewers’ attention. There may be a correlation between environmental concerns and interest in Formula 1 (e.g., fuel use, noise level).” According to Associate Professor Ang, the COVID-19 pandemic is also a factor that can’t be predicted.
“For Singapore, a seven-year agreement with F1 would be ideal. A possible catastrophe might ensue if they aren’t, “she stated. But if COVID-19 rules by then do not allow such feats, Mr. Walton said it might be difficult to convince local spectators to attend the race.
“Singaporeans between the ages of 18 and 30 who only want to watch an F1 Grand Prix will pay quite a bit of money to sit somewhere on the track where they can’t view the entire race, but that’s not a big deal to them. It may not be able to counterbalance the decline in international visitors for the event (due to travel restrictions),” he said.
Singapore’s health authorities recently removed restrictions on a few music concerts, but cautiously, after the pandemic lasted for about two years. For example, a sold-out crowd of completely vaccinated JJ Lin fans watched the singer perform live in November last year after undergoing pre-event testing for COVID-19.
According to an SGP representative, the complete entertainment lineup for this year’s event would be revealed “as soon as possible. ” He didn’t say when tickets would go on sale, but he hinted that they would be available shortly.
Working with the Singapore Government, Singapore GP is developing a strategy to conduct the event by current safe management practices.” The spokesperson promised to keep the public informed of any new developments as soon as they became available.
On the other hand, Prof Loh said that the lineup of performers is equally important, given the difficulty of bringing in headlining bands eager to perform in front of a vast audience, which may not be possible if the rules are changed.
For these musicians to attend, “hopefully, organizers can make it enticing for them,” he said.