F1 revs up economy as it roars into town

F1 revs up economy as it roars into town
THRILL FOR YOUNG FAN: Eon Ng, nine, meeting his F1 hero Jenson Button of the McLaren-Mercedes team on Wednesday. The race driver was meeting fans at Ion Orchard during the celebrations of the 120th anniversary of ExxonMobil in Singapore.

SINGAPORE - Five years after the Grand Prix was first held here, the glamorous event is turbo-charging the local economy more than ever.

New tourism data shows a 12.6 per cent spike in advance flight bookings for the Formula One race, now into its sixth year here. A surge in last-minute bookings is also expected.

And motor sport fans flooding here for the event from tomorrow to Sunday are arriving ahead of the race earlier than before.

The data was compiled by technology and travel firm Amadeus, and market research and consulting company Forward Data SL.

Then there is the proliferation of spin-off events - timed to coincide with the big race.

Large corporations are more eager than ever before to schmooze with clients against the dramatic backdrop of the night grand prix.

Events held around this weekend include the Russia-Singapore Business Forum, Singapore Summit, Deutsche Bank Women in Asian Business Conference and the inaugural World Engineers Summit.

In previous years, the number of visitors was estimated to be 40,000 for the race weekend.

The tourism data shows that while most visitors are touching down today or tomorrow, about 29 per cent more visitors have arrived three days before the first qualifying race than last year.

Australians take top spot as the race's biggest fans, accounting for 17 per cent of bookings, followed by those from Britain at 8 per cent, and Indonesia at 6 per cent.

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