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Thread: City's image will be the big F1 winner

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    Default City's image will be the big F1 winner

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Prime%2B...ry_280049.html

    Sep 19, 2008 Friday

    City's image will be the big F1 winner

    But don't expect night race to immediately boost the economy, caution experts

    By Alvin Foo


    View of the F1 race circuit from the 65th level of Swissotel The Stamford. The iconic race will put the Republic in the global spotlight and boost its efforts to be Asia's events hub. -- PHOTO: TERENCE TAN

    OVER the next week or so, the hype over the world's first Formula One night race will build to a crescendo, but what, exactly does the event do for Singapore?

    Plenty, say the experts.

    But, they caution, those who are expecting the tills to ring or for the slowing economy to get a jab in the arm are setting themselves up for disappointment.

    The Singapore F1 race costs about $150 million to put together, and is expected to attract 40,000 tourists, generate $100 million and attract a global TV audience of 500 million.

    But, as CIMB-GK economist Song Seng Wun put it, 'a weekend of some fancy pharmaceutical output from Tuas may have a bigger impact on economic growth than an F1 weekend'.

    'I doubt a weekend of 'happening' beautiful people in Zouk, St James or 100 per cent hotel occupancy will do anything more than contribute, at best, two decimal places to Singapore GDP (gross domestic product) growth this year.'

    He is not alone.

    Several economists and analysts are not too optimistic over F1's immediate value to the Singapore economy.

    Standard Chartered Bank economist Alvin Liew feels the initial estimates are likely to be pared lower now, due to the 'depressing' global economic outlook.

    HSBC economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde added: 'The macroeconomic impact is generally much smaller than most people expect.'

    They are to quick to add, however, that though the dollars and cents impact of F1 is limited, its intangible benefits are priceless. Just as last month's Beijing Olympics was hailed as China's coming-out party, media consultants and industry experts say F1 will boost Singapore's image as Asia's world-class events capital.

    'This race should be the catalyst in changing Singapore's efficient but dull image, in a grander and more appealing way than lifting the ban on bar-top dancing did,' said Ms Goh Shu Fen, principal of advertising industry consulting firm R3.

    Added Singapore Tourism Board (STB) communications director Muhamad Rostam Umar: 'This iconic event will help to put us firmly in the global spotlight...the buzz will boost Singapore's efforts to be the entertainment and events capital of Asia.'

    Media experts estimate the public relations value of the F1 race to Singapore, including the two to three hours of live TV air-time, could be worth as much as US$300 million (S$430 million).

    Having the country squarely in the media spotlight will add a whole lot more.

    The race coverage will 'place the city in the consciousness of millions of international TV viewers', explained media consultant Pieter Aquilia.

    She added: 'Footage will be featured on news and sports programmes and Singapore will be seen by, heard of, and read about by an even larger audience.'

    This will help to draw in more tourists, conferences, and sporting and business activities in the long haul, analysts note.

    It could also make Singapore the Monaco of Asia - a second home for the rich and famous. Economists say some among the super-wealthy set who will be here for the race might wind up liking what they see of Singapore and set up a second home here.

    The huge publicity blitz the event generates may also get the attention of foreign talent and spark a move here.

    Though these intangibles are the key benefits of F1, it does not mean businesses do not stand to gain anything over the next few days. The Melbourne Grand Prix, for example, has brought in over A$1 billion (S$1.1 billion) in economic benefits for Victoria since 1996.

    And while the US city of Indianapolis staged an F1 race for just a few short years from 2000 to last year, the event's economic impact has been measured at close to US$1 billion by the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association.

    Operators of food and beverage (F&B) outlets and tourist attractions, especially those located within or near the circuit, are licking their lips in anticipation of bigger takings.

    Singapore Flyer general manager Steven Yeo said: 'We expect 30 per cent more tourists than usual during F1 weekend. F&B spending should go up significantly for our tenants, as we foresee a higher spending crowd coming in.'

    Over at Central, next to the Singapore River, the hope is that STB's projection of 60,000 visitors - 20 per cent more than usual - to the area during the period will come to pass.

    Some bars and restaurants are expecting up a boost of up to 50 per cent more business on Grand Prix weekend.

    Mr Michael Ma, owner of the IndoChine Group of nightlife establishments, said: 'There'll certainly be a jump in business, of at least 30 per cent, in the period leading up to F1 race and on race days.'

    St James Power Station's chief executive Dennis Foo estimated that F1 fever will generate an 'eight-figure sum' worth of business for the local nightlife industry for the week.

    He added: 'The amount of activities in store is unprecedented for any one period outside of the Christmas and New year season.'

    Other businesses will also gain.

    Said StanChart's Mr Liew: 'The trickle-down impact on supporting industries (such as horticulture, logistics and transport, for example) would provide welcome relief in the present time of slowing activity.'

    It is not all rosy, however. Some fear that the disruptions caused by road closures and such could exact a high price.

    With the memory of the business bust during the International Monetary Fund/World Bank meetings seared into their consciousness - road closures and tight security limited access to the Marina Square area, and Singaporeans and visitors stayed away in droves - some retailers are more than a little worried.

    Said one, who declined to be named: 'Some of us are secretly preparing for the worst.'

    Many others, however, are more optimistic, and they are rolling out all means to attract shoppers.

    Discounts, shuttle buses, even go-kart races are part of their battle plan.

    Whether these will work remains to be seen.

    One thing is clear, however, say analysts. Singapore's image will be the hands-down winner once the dust has settled. Said CIMB-GK's Mr Song: 'The $150 million's a small price to pay to put Singapore in the global spotlight for a weekend.'

    [email protected]

    Additional reporting by Lim Wei Chean and Frankie Chee

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    http://www.straitstimes.com/Prime%2B...ry_280050.html

    Sep 19, 2008 Friday

    City skyline to get new night glow

    23 buildings in Marina Bay, CBD submit lighting proposals to the Govt

    By Lee Siew Hua



    A NEW city skyline will arise over the next couple of years when 23 buildings turn on the lights at night.

    Maybank, The Sail condo and the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort are among the buildings that have sent lighting proposals to the Government. The plans include how they will illuminate their roofs or accentuate their facades.

    This light-up is part of Singapore's plan to create a night buzz for a distinctive city, said Mrs Cheong Hoon Kean, chief executive officer of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

    Speaking to The Straits Times ahead of the Formula One night race next week, she said: 'We can look forward to a signature night skyline in the next couple of years, when the buildings in Marina Bay and Central Business District (CBD) are completed and external lighting is installed.' Beautiful lighting will create 'a captivating night scene that enhances our city's appeal', she added.

    An artist's rendering of the reborn skyline was completed yesterday, piecing together the 23 lighting proposals.

    The buildings appear subtly illuminated, not flooded with light.

    Good lighting, Mrs Cheong said, is not about being the brightest or flashiest. Asian cities tend to be over-lit, she added, but this is not Singapore's ethos.

    The underlying principle is to stay 'elegant and tasteful, and sensitive to a building's architecture', she said. 'Look at Paris, the romantic City of Lights.'

    According to URA officials, elegant lighting should bring out the architectural design elements of a building. So, the emphasis includes illumination of the roof or crown of the building, and lighting walkways on the first storey to create spaces ideal for outdoor activities.

    Lights can also be programmable. Day-to-day lighting can be 'a little bit more calm', Mrs Cheong said. The look can be 'celebratory' for festive seasons.

    Building owners are hiring lighting experts like Mr Bo Steiber to give their properties a glow at night. The founder of Bo Steiber Lighting Design is lighting up the new tower of OUB Centre at 1, Raffles Place.

    His earlier work includes illuminating Shanghai's Xintiandi lifestyle and nightlife district, and the Esplanade's Theatres on the Bay.

    The Swede, a Singapore permanent resident, said his energy-efficient lighting of OUB Centre will 'accentuate the tower's angular, linear, diamond features'. He lauded the URA's 'good initiative' to beautify the skyline.

    The URA's Lighting Masterplan was introduced in 2006. To encourage more buildings in Marina Bay and the CBD to light up, incentives were rolled out. New developments and buildings being revamped can get as much as 2 per cent additional gross floor area if they light up.

    Cash incentives from a $10 million fund to offset the capital costs of new lighting are also granted, particularly for existing structures.

    The URA also had a night lighting plan in 1995 for the civic district, the cultural and historical heart of the city. Some 90 per cent of the buildings, bridges and public spaces there were lit.

    [email protected]

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    http://www.straitstimes.com/Insight/...ry_280089.html

    Sep 19, 2008 Friday

    Mrs Night Buzz revs up evening economy

    Lively nights will add extra oomph to our lifestyle and economy. But there's more to nightlife than pubbing and clubbing. Think romantic Parisienne lights, families enjoying a night out and festivals, says URA's chief executive Cheong Koon Hean. It's all happening here, she tells Insight ahead of the F1 night race.

    By Lee Siew Hua, Senior Political Correspondent

    View pictures: http://www.straitstimes.com/Insight/..._280089_1.html

    AS SINGAPOREAN homebodies sleep, an evening economy has started to spring up around them.

    Just ask Mrs Night Buzz.

    Few know this but Mrs Cheong Koon Hean, 51, has for two years led a panel of policymakers to multiply round-the-clock leisure choices and nurture a new evening economy.

    This will rev up the city's hip factor in the global race for mobile talent.

    It also creates memories and rootedness for residents.

    'If you have a great nightlife, it is really a differentiating factor for Singapore,' she tells Insight ahead of the world's first Formula One night race next week - surely the mother of all night events.

    Calling nightlife a 'comparative advantage', she adds: 'Cities compete against one another and lifestyle is a very, very major consideration when people make choices of where to live or to work.'

    Almost evangelical, Mrs Cheong, the zestful chief executive of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), highlights the value of the evening economy.

    To grow this, it needs a deft interplay of government resources and the imagination of the private sector.

    The best outcome? In her eyes, it will bring about a richer quality of life for all, a distinctive Singapore lifestyle and city, and national wealth too.

    Plug and play

    NIGHT buzz will be focused on the Singapore River, Marina Bay, the Bras Basah/Bugis enclave and Orchard Road.

    'It is not realistic to expect buzz everywhere. Not everybody wants that,' Mrs Cheong reasons.

    'You must have some places that are more passive for variety and contrast.'

    For the four chosen zones, the complex building blocks of a lively nightscene involve 'hardware' (elegant lighting to engender a City of Lights, for instance) and more importantly, 'software' (bright ideas for a night culture).

    First, the hardware: 'If you want a nightscape that is conducive for activities, you need the right infrastructure.'

    This means adding public spaces and promenades for public events, and preparing a ready electrical supply.

    'Organisers can just plug and play in future,' she says. 'The electricity comes out from the ground. It's very, very unobtrusive.' The days of noisy generators are fading.

    A floating stage on the Singapore River is another example she cites. It can be rented for performances, and can move up and down the river.

    Bridges over the historic river will also glow with new ambient lighting, in time for the F1 season next weekend.

    Where neon lights beckon

    THE night skyline is a big star of the planned infrastructure.

    The URA formed a lighting masterplan for the city centre in 2006. It gives incentives to building owners to light up facades in Marina Bay and the Central Business District.

    A total of 23 proposals have been received from owners of buildings that include Maybank, the OUB Centre and the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort.

    'You can give buildings a lot of character with night lighting. It can inspire you. There's a certain appeal that is different from daytime,' Mrs Cheong says. 'Look at Paris, the romantic City of Lights.'

    The key is to light up 'tastefully and elegantly' like the European cities. She feels that Asian cities tend to be overlit.

    That rules out neon lights? 'Neon has its role in the entertainment districts,' she replies. So New York's 42nd Street, with its pulsating advertising signs, is ablaze with neon.

    'We also want that but only for the very busy areas.

    'We want to introduce that more into Bugis because it has entertainment,' says the architect-planner who became CEO of URA in April 2004 and has a hand in Singapore's urban transformation, including Marina Bay.

    As for software, this means a culture of more night events. For this, the Government is joining forces with private enterprises.

    'Many global cities have these 'must-sees' that create very great vibrancy and will draw people from all over the world. Some of these can happen at night,' she says.

    She remembers that as a student at University College in London, she braved the cold to attend concerts in Hyde Park.

    And New York has its New Year countdown in the middle of winter. Multitudes turn up to see the ball drop in Times Square while millions watch it on TV.

    Singapore, too, can create such events and memories. The thousands of lit-up 'wishing spheres' that float on Marina Bay during the New Year countdown can be one new tradition, she suggests.

    The private sector is key to the evening economy, she stresses. The Government plays the role of enabler by raising the right infrastructure, she says.

    It will also regulate with a light touch and organise mega events on a national scale.

    Old pool, new idea

    SO THERE is an interplay.

    'We want to work with the private sector and use its enterprising spirit to have a multiplier effect,' says Mrs Cheong.

    In fact, the private sector has been busy spinning events, notably over the past eight years or so, she says. Among these are Ballet Under The Stars, now in its 12th year.

    The recent SingFest - an outdoor musical festival - featured world-famous acts like Alicia Keys and also local bands in August.

    And Chivas, the purveyor of scotch whisky, is using the old River Valley Swimming Pool to host a stylish party and dance act during the inaugural Singapore River Festival, which starts today.

    So, entrepreneurs and food-and-beverage outlets can easily 'latch' onto such mega events organised by the Government, she points out.

    Already, outsiders have taken note of Singapore's night buzz.

    The island was ranked fifth globally in nightlife last year. It was No. 2 in the nightlife quotient in 2006.

    These rankings, known as the Country Brand Index, have been compiled annually by global brand consultancy FutureBrand since 2005.

    Mrs Cheong is not losing sleep over Singapore's slip in ranking, saying: 'If you're among the top 10 or 15 cities, you're not bad. You're on the radar screen.'

    Visitors are impressed with the nightlife here. 'In our own surveys, the tourists actually give us a higher rating on our nightlife than the locals,' she says. 'Surprising, isn't it?

    'Maybe visitors and foreigners make a point to find out where they can go. Maybe we need to tell Singaporeans about the places they can go to.'

    She is certainly keen to show Singaporeans how possible it is to stretch each day into the cool tropical night.

    'Nightlife is not only about shopping, clubbing and pubbing,' she asserts. 'It's really to encourage people to have a great night out.'

    That includes families. People rarely link children and old folk with nightlife but, eyes sparkling, Mrs Cheong virtually sings out the ideas:

    'A night out under the stars, night out for a romantic stroll along the waterfront or Fort Canning, night out for a barbecue, night out for a concert, night out for biking, night out for a great party!'

    She adds: 'I always say a night out can be anything. It can be for people who prefer the more quiet life to the really more busy and buzzy activities.'

    Night-loving families

    PERSONALLY, she includes elderly family members when she takes evening walks on the Southern Ridges, a series of hill trails linking Mount Faber, Telok Blangah Hill and the Kent Ridge parks.

    Here, the bridges and forest walk nature trail are fully lit. The elderly in wheelchairs show up too, she says.

    'If you can wheel your disabled family member or bring your elderly parents to the Southern Ridges, my goodness, you can certainly go to the Bras Basah night festival,' she argues cheerfully.

    The inaugural festival in July involved fun such as street performances, and free museum visits till 2am.

    Also enjoyable for her: fishing at Changi Point or Pasir Ris ponds, where it is possible to dangle rods all night because of 'our beautiful cool weather'.

    Indeed, Singapore's weather and safety are ideal conditions for an evening economy, she says.

    For a sense of the potential of this evening economy, she pulls a parallel from tourist expenditure figures.

    Malls taking part in the Singapore Tourism Board's late-night shopping scheme enjoyed an average rise of 15 per cent in sales, compared to non-late nights. This is for the one-year period between September 2007 and August 2008.

    On Saturdays, shopping hours stretch till 11pm for participating malls.

    Overall, tourists spent $8.42 billion in 2006. They lavished 56 per cent of this sum on shopping (44 per cent) plus food and beverage (12 per cent).

    This is relevant, she feels, as much shopping and dining occur in the evening.

    So night buzz makes sense - and makes money too. It is as much an economic component of cities as a measure of lifestyle quality.

    Scanning the globe, she singles out the Spaniards, who are still out on the streets at midnight after a late dinner, as a people with a night-loving culture.

    Closer home, Seoul's Daehongno University Street brims with energy by day and night. Mini-theatres abound, and also shops and food outlets. Young people play sports and perform music. There is a whiff of this in the Bras Basah/Bugis zone.

    Even as the Singapore evening economy fires up over time, she could not resist this parting shot: 'Have a great night out!'

    [email protected]

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