Business Circle spoke to Razlan Razali, CEO of Sepang Circuit Sdn Bhd to better understand the tourism impact of the F1 race in Malaysia and find out that the race is much more than about loud engines, glamorous drivers and hot umbrella girls. There is a strong tourism impact to the race that is lost to most people.
What is the multiplier impact of the average F1 visitor to Malaysia? Would you have this data over a five year period?
We conducted the first Economic Impact Study for the 2011 Malaysia Formula One by engaging PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The economic return on investment for the 2011 F1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix (PMGP) is 3. This indicates that the Malaysia economy receives RM3 in value added impact from every RM1 invested in staging F1.
The 2011 F1 PMGP contributed approximately RM244 million to 2011 Gross National Income (GNI) of which 60% was generated by visitors, 22% by sponsors, 13% by SIC and 5% by racing teams. The average spending of a foreign visitor during the event was RM7,000.
A Malaysian who used to be involved in the motor racing scene feels that Singapore has raised the bar to a new level with the way they have made their race an experiential event. How has our F1 evolved as an experience that sells Malaysia to the overseas visitors who come for the race? Anything new this year?
Each F1 is unique to the host country. Malaysia is unique on its own. Spectators and especially overseas visitors remember Malaysia F1 for its modern design and iconic circuit and especially the exciting racing and drama every year.
The Malaysia F1 is a genuine and raw Formula One race that focuses more on the race and less on the entertainment part. This entertainment is which most spectators remember the Singapore GP for. We leave the partying to the private sector in the city. However, since 2009, we introduced the post race concert to offer a more complete experience to an already exciting race event.
The 15th anniversary of F1 in Malaysia will continue to be exciting with post race concerts. For the first time, we will see legendary Guns N Roses performing at the concert. This is the band’s first performance in Malaysia and their first post race concert for F1. We will provide more value to ticket holders to enjoy the many benefits and privileges such as discounts and vouchers for fine dining, retails, parties, public transport and tourism attractions.
We call this the One Ticket Unlimited in which a number of quality merchants have tied up with us as the promoter of F1 to provide more value to the ticket holders especially foreign tourists.
I understand Thailand is looking to get into hosting an F1 race too. Are you open to being a co-host with them after your contract ends in 2016? What are the synergies in that?
I will not comment on that until Thailand actually happens. It could be positive or it could be negative but let’s see what happens.
What is the reach of the international media coverage that the event generates for Malaysia and how does this help drive more visitors to Malaysia? Do you actually have a way to measure how F1 has helped drive more tousists to Malaysia over the past 13 years we have been hosting it?
The total media exposure generated by TV media and trackside advertising is estimated at RM385million from approximately 65million viewers worldwide in 2011. Of this broadcast exposure value, 1% is attributed to ASEAN viewers, while 99% is attributed to non-ASEAN viewers. The F1 PMGP has become the country’s biggest racing event with the number of visitors increasing steadily from 80,000 spectators in 1999 to 119,960 spectators in 2012 of which 37% were foreigners. Currently, there are no sporting events in Malaysia that are able to attract more than 100,000 spectators per event annually.
How is the Internet and Social Media used to create a buzz around the event. Both in Malaysia and globally?
We use the said medium extensively. It is cheaper and more importantly has a wider reach for all ages both Malaysia and globally. We no longer rely on TV, radio and print. The internet and social media is now our number one platform to promote aggressively.
Photo Credit: Flickr user richjjones