SINGAPORE - Fans of Formula One and hotels are looking forward to the Singapore Grand Prix's return for the next seven years, starting from this October.
Restaurant owner Seraphina Lee, 35, has been a fan since her school days and attended Singapore's inaugural night race in 2008.
Said Ms Lee: "It's a shame we have not had the race for the last two years, but with the Covid-19 pandemic, it is understandable.
"It's been two years since we've had any real large-scale events in Singapore, so I think it's definitely very exciting, and I hope I can attend."
This year's Formula One Singapore Grand Prix race is scheduled to take place from Sept 30 to Oct 2, and the authorities have stressed that all stakeholders will work towards ensuring the health and safety of all participants, staff, fans and the wider community.
Nanyang Technological University student Lim Jia Jin, 28, who has attended five of the Grands Prix events, said: "I am excited as the last two races were cancelled.
"Singapore is a special venue on the F1 calendar and the event attracts many tourists and viewers, so I was sure that even after the contract expired at the end of 2021, it would be extended."
Hotels too are gearing up to host fans, both local and foreign.
From 2008 to 2019, hotels, especially those in the downtown area, enjoyed near-capacity occupancy during race week.
In 2019, the last year that the race was held before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach was fully booked, while other nearby hotels, including Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford, reported 90 per cent occupancy during the race weekend.
Responding to queries from The Straits Times on Thursday (Jan 27), Pan Pacific Hotels Group's chief sales and marketing officer, Ms Cinn Tan, said it is in close discussions with partners in preparation for the race's return after the two-year hiatus.
She said: "As one of the key partners in previous Formula One races, we are excited that we now have two trackside hotels offering unparalleled views of the race."
Pan Pacific Singapore and Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay are part of the group.
"Closer to the date, we will develop packages to cater to fans and guests who are eager to catch the momentous return of the event live from our hotels," she added.
Mr Mark Aldridge, director of sales and marketing at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, said that the hotel is looking forward to the return of the race this year.
He said: "This night motor-racing event has always been a highlight for both local and international guests, especially since they are able to watch the race from the comfort of our guest rooms."
With safe management measures expected to be in place in addition to the usual road closures and movement restrictions, some businesses around the Marina Bay Street Circuit wondered how footfall will be affected during race week.
Mr Lewis Mitchell, director of Excise Man Wine and Whisky Bar, which is located at the Esplanade, fears that business will take a big hit.
"The drop in sales during the 2019 race was catastrophic," he said.
"We are very affected by events like this and we tend to lose a lot of business because of the road closures and diversions. A lot of our customers prefer to steer away from the entire area, and even if some people come to walk around, very few venture past the ground floor.
"We lost business not only on the days of the race but also the week leading up to it due to preparations."
The owner of plant store Love In A Bottle in Millenia Walk, Mr Daniel Ho, 52, said: "They will close the roads for the race preparation, which brings a lot of inconvenience to shoppers. The carpark has only one entrance open, so there will be slightly less traffic here.
"But I welcome F1. It will help the Singapore economy, especially the tourism industry."
Ms Cheryl Ong, 19, who works at Pullman Bakery, also at Millenia Walk, said the shop is hoping for a spike in business during F1.
When asked about road closures, she said: "We're not very worried about road closures because the mall is located really close to Esplanade MRT, so we will still get traffic during peak periods."
Past F1 events here featured concerts with international acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse, and Ms Lee is hoping a similar buzz will return this year.
She said: "I watched Queen live in 2016 and it was electrifying, and dancing in the rain with my friends to Robbie Williams in 2014 is still one of my fondest concert memories.
"The concerts will add a layer of excitement to the festivities, especially since it's been quite hard to catch live performances and live music since the pandemic started."
Ms Lee, whose restaurant is in Purvis Street, near the race track, is also hoping for a spillover effect to help her business.