Friday, March 02, 2007

Formula One: Full speed ahead for Malaysian GP

SET at the end of the most extravagant build-up festivities it has ever tasted, the Petronas Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix on April 6-8 has an itinerary fit for an Olympic Games.

From a host of concerts by international artistes, fashion shows, a huge shopping gala to a classic and vintage car concourse, the build-up alone oozes class.

For the race itself, work to improve the Sepang Circuit has already begun as organisers Sepang International Circuit (SIC) look confident in not only meeting their target of a record 120,000 spectators for the race, but to also serve their non-sporting targets as well.

Kuala Lumpur will once again play host to the race, which is the second leg of the Formula One World Championship calendar, and Federal Territories Minister Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique yesterday launched the capital city’s programme for the grand prix.

"This, being our 50th anniversary of independence, means that we want to make it a special event. We will also introduce Kuala Lumpur to the world," said Zulhasnan.

"The Tourism Ministry has the details of how the race actually has an impact on tourism. In fact, when the entry of tourists tend to decline at the end of February and March, we see it peaking in the time of the race."

Tourism Ministry statistics for last year showed a 70 to 74 per cent occupancy rate for hotel rooms in and around Kuala Lumpur during the Malaysian Grand Prix period, leading the Government to take on a more aggressive approach to this year’s race.

As for SIC, chairman Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir said, promotions throughout the region have shown a steady increase over the years, stating that the majority of the early ticket sales come from Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

With more than a month to go, ticket sales currently stand at 11,000.

"Malaysians tend to have a habit of buying Formula One tickets like they do movie tickets. They prefer to buy tickets on race day or close to it," said Mokhzani.

"In the past, we’ve got excited and worried when we saw ticket sales not what we wanted them to be at the stage we are at now, but then suddenly in the week before the race, we saw dramatic increases. I believe it will be the same this year."

Source : NST
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