[SINGAPORE] Ticket sales for Singapore's Formula One race that will take place in two weeks haven't been affected so far by an outbreak of the Zika virus despite travel advisories warning against visiting the city state, according to its promoter.
Sales to corporate and VIP attendees, a key source of revenue, have already reached their expected levels, signalling the race should have good attendance, Michael Roche, executive director of Singapore GP, said in an interview on Friday. Countries from the US to Australia are among those which have issued cautions on traveling to Singapore.
The three-day Grand Prix event, which have drawn thousands of fans to Singapore since it began eight years ago, takes place this month against the backdrop of a spreading Zika outbreak and deteriorating air quality because of smoke from Indonesian forest fires.
More than 100 people have been infected with the mosquito-borne virus since the first case was identified last week.
"At some point we knew Zika would come through Asia, it was a little bit unfortunate maybe that Singapore grabbed some of the headlines," Mr Roche said. "We just get on with it."
Overall sales for the F1 race, including those for cheaper "walkabout" tickets with no fixed seats to watch the event, have been increasing every day even after news first broke of the first local Zika infection on Aug 27, he said.
The event, which takes place at the Marina Bay race track in downtown Singapore, has drawn an average attendance of 257,000 spectators since the first race in 2008 that was won by Spanish driver Fernando Alonso.
Tourism has proved to be one of the bright spots in Singapore's otherwise sluggish economy this year. The number of visitors to the city state climbed 14 per cent to 4.1 million in the first quarter from a year ago, earning S$5.4 billion in revenue, according to official data.
The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates the industry accounts for about 10 per cent of gross domestic product in the island nation.
For all our Zika coverage, go to bt.sg/zika