Thailand pitches to host Formula One race to bolster tourism


BANGKOK (Bloomberg):Thailand is staking claim to host a Formula One race, with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin pitching Bangkok as a circuit for a street race that will help burnish the South-East Asian nation’s status as a major tourism hub.

Srettha, whose administration has focused on entertainment and sports events to draw high-spending tourists, met with F1 Chief Executive Stefano Domenicali on Monday and said the country has all it takes to hold the competition.

F1 executives were in Bangkok to survey and study the routes for the race at the invitation of the Thai government, Srettha said in a post on X. The visit followed the leader’s meeting with Domenicali in Paris last month where the two discussed the possibility of Thailand hosting a street race, Rudklao Suwankiri, a deputy spokeswoman for the Thai government, said in a statement.

A third of the 24 F1 races scheduled for the 2024 season, which began on March 2, will be held on a street or hybrid circuit, compared to around 15% a decade prior. These are races that take place either entirely or partially on closed-off public roads that have been transformed briefly into motorsports venues, home to high-tech racers that can hit over 200 miles per hour.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore hosts the F1 race on the Marina Bay Street Circuit, located on the city’s waterfront. Since its debut in 2008, the F1 Singapore Grand Prix has attracted more than 550,000 foreign visitors and generated around S$2 billion ($1.47 billion) of incremental tourism receipts, according to the island’s government.

Srettha has vowed to elevate Thailand’s status as a tourism hotspot into an aviation and logistics hub as his administration taps the so-called quick wins to stimulate the nation’s economy. He has pushed promotional campaigns to extend holidaymakers’ stay and year-round festivals to boost the number of foreign tourists and pitched Thailand as an ideal location to host the Formula E competition and MotoGP.

If Thailand lands the rights to host an F1 race in 2027, it could generate about 4 billion baht ($108 million) in economic value and generate more than 1,000 jobs, Jakkaphon Tangsutthitham, a deputy secretary-general to the premier, said on X.

Read More: F1’s Urban Street Races Bring Thrills, Headaches to Host Cities

Tourism is one of Thailand’s key industries accounting for about 20% of total jobs and making up about 12% of the nation’s $500 billion economy. Srettha’s administration has set a goal of attracting 80 million tourists by 2027 and to achieve that it has signed a reciprocal visa waiver deal with China - Thailand’s largest market for tourists - and offered temporary visa waivers for travelers from India, Taiwan and Kazakhstan.

This year, the country aims to welcome 35 to 40 million foreign tourists, close to the pre-pandemic record of 40 million visitors in 2019. It’s also mulling a plan to open casinos inside large entertainment complexes and promote event-based tourism to help the country generate more revenue.

-- ©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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