6th November 2009, 10:41 PM
No 'F1 of the skies' next year
More "Tak Boleh" for Singapore.
No 'F1 of the skies' next year
By Dawn Tay
IT IS confirmed: Singaporeans will not be able to catch the "Formula One (F1) of the skies" - the Red Bull Air Race - here next year.
Logistical problems and a jam-packed 2010 Singapore event calendar have jettisoned plans for one of the aerial race's eight legs to be held here.
Started in 2003 and followed by millions of viewers worldwide, the race features the world's top pilots, who thread
their planes through narrow air gates on an aerial track at speeds of up to 370kmh.
Last November, adrenalin junkies here had their hopes raised when Mr Stefan Lehrmayer of Austria-based organiser Red Bull GmbH told The Straits
Times that the prospect of Singapore hosting a leg was "very promising".
If it was to be held here, the race would take place between April and June next year, he had said then.
However, in response to a my paper query this week, he said: "Other events taking place in Singapore in 2010 - including the Youth Olympic Games - and construction on the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort contributed to us not being able to stage a race (here)."
The Marina Bay area was the proposed venue for the race.
Criteria for a host city include a spectacular backdrop, a large enough area for the 6km aerial track over water or land, and about 500,000 spectators.
When contacted, a Singapore Tourism Board (STB) spokesman said: "Discussions for an event of this scale and stature are complex, although we recognise that it has the potential to enhance Singapore's profile as an attractive destination."
It is not known how much the air race would have raked in for Singapore.
Singapore's F1 race last year, with an estimated budget of up to $150 million, drew more than 40,000 overseas visitors and generated nearly $168 million in tourist receipts.
Other cities that have hosted the race have benefited from the tourist dollars brought in. Canada's Ontario, for example, reportedly invested more than $3 million to host a leg in June this year, and estimated economic dividends of around $100 million.
Industry insiders here had earlier told my paper that the air race might not happen, because of concerns over whether the economy could support a calendar packed with events like the US$75-million ($105-million)
Youth Olympic Games in August and the F1 race in September.
However, tourism-industry veteran and tourism consultancy MasterConsult Services' managing director, Mr Christopher Khoo, said: "While the 2010 calendar is pretty packed, if an event fits into Singapore's strategy, the budget can always be shaken loose."
Both the organiser and STB said that discussions are still ongoing to bring the race here in the future.
But Singapore now has competition for the bragging rights of being the first Asian host country for the air race.
The race organiser said that it has received interest from other South-east Asian cities, including Kuala Lumpur, which "sent a strong application to stage a race in 2011".
7th November 2009, 03:57 PM
Re: No 'F1 of the skies' next year