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Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix boosts visitor arrivals

Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix boosts visitor arrivals
November 5, 2013

The fifth Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit the only twilight race on the F1 calendar has again grown in popularity.

Held over the weekend, the race is a favourite for drivers while also attacting a growing number of fans.

Former world champion Lewis Hamilton sums up driver sentiment, telling "the circuit and the whole Yas Marina complex are so impressive and racing from the sunshine into the twilight is quite special."

With the track running through the signature Yas Viceroy hotel and alongside the island's spectacular marina; it's efficiency had been widely admired by the organisers and the spectators. Taking inspiration from the city-state of Monaco, the circuit was built on the 25.5 kilometre2 Yas Island which includes large scale leisure, commercial and residential development.

The circuit was built by the main contractor Cebarco-WCT, under contract from the Abu Dhabi-based developer Aldar Properties. It features the largest permanent sports venue lighting project in the world, provided by Musco Lighting.

When it was first held in the capital in 2009, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had one novel feature never seen before in Formula One. That race was the first ever F1 day/night GP.

With spectator capacity was increased by 10% this year, the sold out event attracted 55,000 spectators per day, including a growing number of overseas visitors.

Al Tareq Al Ameri, Senior Director of Commercial Activities at the Yas Marina Circuit, which is operated Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, told Abu Dhabi newspaper The Nation "our aim is for 42% of ticket sales to come from visitors living outside the UAE."

The combination of exciting on-track action and surrounding hotels and attractions (including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld) gives the Abu Dhabi GP not only a unique flavour but are also boosting its commercial success.

Christian Sylt, the co-author of Formula Money, an annual report examining all facets of finances involved with Formula One, explains "the key driver of the growth (in Formula 1)is the fees that come from the circuits.

"Most of these contracts include clauses that increase the rate by up to 10% annually. It's a clever strategy because if you look at the secrets to F1's success you can identify several key points. The move to Asia is one."

Fees are understood to start at US$500 million which emerging nations across Asia are keen to pay as a way to showcase their economies.

Sylt adds "the F1 calendar is restricted to 20 races a year teams refuse to agree to more races which makes it difficult to exponentially increase revenues.

"So what (Formula 1 management has done is to) take races to emerging markets. It became apparent to countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, China, India and South Korea that hosting a Formula One race is a good way to put their country on the global sporting map.

"F1 is the most watched sport in the world 500 million viewers a year so this is a good way to get your country seen on TV, drive tourism and make yourself look credible alongside other sporting nations."

This argument is backed up by data from the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture authority in collaboration with the World Tourism Organisation that show an increase of 37% in guest arrivals in August compared with the same month last year, with hotel occupancy increasing by 17%.

This raised the total revenue for hotel establishments for August by 32% on August last year to Dh336m. Total revenue generated by hotel guests in the first six months of this year rose by 17% compared with the same period last year from Dh2.8bn to Dh3.3bn.

The race itself has also had a major impact on tourism figures, with, last year, the Abu Dhabi Airports Company reporting a 17.3% increase in passenger traffic in November compared with the same month in 2011. This has been predominantly attributed to the F1.



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