While the common man on the street is fretting about the ongoing economic crises and graduating students like myself are worrying about our career prospects in times of economic uncertainty, the Singapore Government had a great weekend to cap its $90 million spending spree for the F1 Grand Prix in Singapore.
No doubt that the event was an overwhelming success, but the question is, what is the value of staging this event for the average Singaporean? $90 million was just the cost for this year’s Grand Prix… the event will be held for the next 4 years too. That’s a lot of money for a shot at “putting Singapore on the world map” for its expertise in hosting the F1.
First of all, this was obviously not staged for the enjoyment of Singaporeans. With ticket prices mostly costing several hundred dollars and up, its certainly far from being affordable. 50% of those who paid for tickets were tourists, but besides paying top dollar for tickets and their hotel stays, it leaves to be seen how much these 50,000 or so visitors have brought in tourist revenues to Singapore businesses. If I am not wrong, expectations are low since many of these visitors are here just for the F1 race. Besides that, road closures in the city to accomodate the event also had negative impacts on shopping malls’ businesses.
Some people may start accusing me of being ’short-sighted’ in not being able to see the long-term benefits of spending such money to promote Singapore. Well, to me it seems quite clear that there aren’t many long-term benefits beyond what we are already getting via our Integrated Resorts project and other tourism initiatives.
True, the decision to host the Grand Prix was made when the economy was doing quite well, and arguably Singapore has more than enough money to splurge on this. But I am not saying that the decision was made at the wrong time. I’m saying that the money would have been better off spent on other things that can benefit more people directly, such as more educational grants to upgrade Singaporeans further (or to ease the burdens of poor students like myself), or more funding for various industries (how ’bout putting in $90 million to fund cancer research and do a huge favor to humanity? Wouldn’t it be better to be ‘put on the world map’ for such commitment?).
At the end of the day, I think this is just another expensive, unnecessary publicity stunt. Very typical of Singapore.