Abu Dhabi braces for Grand Prix economic windfall

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is days away and the pay-off for the capital is expected to be huge.

bu Dhabi / Natalie Hamilton an avid F1 fan takes spin behind a mock F1 car simulator with a little help from Phil Williams at the F1 Fan Zone on Abu Dhabi Corniche.
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The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is days away and the pay-off for the capital is expected to be huge. Abu Dhabi's tourism officials have high hopes that as well as attracting thousands of visitors to the event and filling the 2,200 rooms on Yas Island, the race will promote the capital as a destination to millions across the globe. "The grand prix provides a massive opportunity for exposing Abu Dhabi on the world stage," says Lawrence Franklin, the director of strategy and policy at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). The scale of the event is incomparable to anything that has been held in Abu Dhabi in the past, with 50,000 tickets sold. It will be televised across 188 countries and feature concerts from high-profile acts such as Beyonce. Mr Franklin says that, on average, 55 million people from around the world watch F1 races live on television. Many of them are from ADTA's major target markets, including the UK and Europe. "Clearly, the dollar value of paid advertising to reach audiences of this size would be enormous," he says, adding that the total economic results of the event "will be the subject of post-event evaluation". Mr Franklin says the Bahrain Grand Prix is an excellent reference point. "The circuit itself pumped US$22.9 million (Dh84.1m) into the local economy through services and suppliers, with 402 jobs created directly and indirectly," he says. International visitors in Bahrain spent on average $1,356 a day, with UK tourists spending $1,723 a day. The grand prix, as well as other supporting entertainment events, will draw in first-time visitors to Abu Dhabi and allow them to see what the capital has on offer. It is hoped that many of these visitors will come back. "These benefits are spread through the economy and region," says Mr Franklin. "Suppliers purchase equipment and services, new employees spend money in retail outlets and event-specific visitors travel more widely, spending on accommodation and attractions." A survey of international visitors to the Bahrain GP found that 81 per cent would return within 12 months and 48 per cent in two years. @Email:rbundhun@thenational.ae