A cloud of economic uncertainty may be hanging over the region, but demand for tickets to the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix has seen a spike, suggesting that sales figures could well exceed those of last year.
Race organisers Singapore GP revealed that ticket sales are up 11 per cent from figures registered at this point last year and, while their executive director Michael Roche is surprised, moves are being made to accommodate the surge in numbers.
"You normally expect increase in the one, two and three per cent (range) but to be 11 per cent ahead is great, and there still seems to be big momentum coming," said Roche, who was surprised by the numbers despite currencies weakening across various key markets like Australia and Malaysia.
"There were a lot of threats we were concerned about but, touch wood, we are very, very happy with the response," added Roche, who was speaking on the sidelines of the Light Up The Night carnival at the F1 Pit Building yesterday.
The carnival was graced by Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran who also witnessed the signing ceremony as Singapore Airlines (SIA) extended its title sponsorship of the race for another two years till 2017.
The 2013 edition of the race saw a surge in ticket sales figures that reached 87,509, with last year's numbers dipping to 84,454.
Roche revealed that this year's 11 per cent increase has seen a particular surge in demand for combination packages that allow spectators different experiences on each day of the Grand Prix, from walkabouts to grandstand seating.
And Singapore GP are making modifications to spectator seating configurations.
"We have already added four more blocks (of seats) across the pit straight, from what we've done in the last few years, and the Stamford Grandstand is almost double the height that it was last year," said Roche.
"We're trying to do double-height standing bleachers too, just to try to get that capacity in.
"We're just looking everywhere and anywhere, where we can build extra inventory in anticipation, because the last thing we want is where we get to a situation where we don't have a product to sell."
The inaugural night race in 2008 registered the highest ticket sales of 100,000, but organisers have scaled back the number to improve both the spectator experience and safety.
"We have learnt all the time... and you have to be careful that it doesn't get to a dangerous situation," said Roche.
"(This year) we hope to get around 86,000-87,000 fans each day - we have to pace it in order not to get into an overcrowding situation."
SIA replaced Singtel as title sponsor in April last year but, with more lead time to leverage its partnership with the Singapore GP, it has also seen good interest in its travel packages to the iconic night race.
Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg will headline the Sept 18-20 marquee event as they continue their two-horse race to the top of the standings, with rock legends Bon Jovi dominating the airwaves around the Marina Bay Circuit.
This article was first published on August 23, 2015.
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