The award-winning Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) is gearing up for a dynamic tourism push across the UK for 2006.
The tiny Middle East Kingdom swept on to the world sports tourism map in 2004 as the first and only country in the region to host a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship.
Since then the US$ 150 million state-of-the-art facility has catapulted the Kingdom of Bahrain to pole position as the ‘Home of Motorsport in the Middle East’. More than 75,000 race fans and visitors attended the first F1 desert race in 2004 generating in the region of US$110 in revenue.
This year attendance rose to 90,000 with revenues reaching US$160 million.
“BIC has a key role to play in developing Bahrain’s fledgling tourism business so we are delighted to have had a presence at this year’s World Travel Market,” says Martin Whitaker, General Manager, BIC. “Given its strong heritage in motor racing, Great Britain is naturally a key target for Bahrain’s tourism marketing efforts,” he added.
In 2006 the Kingdom Of Bahrain will further enhance its overall awareness and profile as it stages the opening round of the Formula One season. Timing could not be better from a British perspective for the relative newcomer to the F1 calendar as the Oxfordshire-based Renault team clinched both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ F1 Championship in Shanghai last month.
Renault’s double triumph brought the five-year dominance of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari to a crashing end and, in the process, saw a renaissance in enthusiasm for the sport following a dynamic championship with a variety of race winners, dramatic racing and new Champions.
According to UK agency, Initiative Futures, analysts of TV viewing from the world’s biggest sporting events, around 800 million tuned into F1 during 2004, with BIC’s inaugural race drawing the year’s single biggest audience. Statistics for this year are still being compiled but all the indicators point to even higher viewing figures for 2005.
“One of the undoubted benefits of F1 events, especially a Grand Prix, is the massive TV exposure it affords the host nation,” says Whitaker. “F1 is the perfect showcase for the quality of facilities, efficiency of infrastructure and its main tourist attractions.
After only its first F1 race, BIC won the FIA Race Promoter’s Trophy for being the most well organised event of the season.
“BIC’s facilities and indeed those of Bahrain - along with its year round sunshine, friendliness and hospitality of its people - make it a perfect destination for corporate and MICE visitors as well as sports fans,” says Whitaker.
And for motor enthusiasts, Bahrain is perfect.
BIC is home to the only BMW Performance Center in the Middle East and to Adventure Drive Arabia, the leading 4x4 off-road course of its type anywhere in the world.
In addition to a glittering international racing calendar it offers a full programme of public driving days with its leading brands; Open Track, Open Tour and Open Test.
Billed as the most technologically-advanced racing circuit in the world, BIC holds a long term contract as the only circuit in the Gulf region to host a round of the FIA Formula One World Championships.
Its vast portfolio of international and regional races include FIA GT Championship, FIA European Drag Racing Championship, GP2, Vee Eight Supercar Championship Series and BWM World Final.
The circuit is open all year round and incorporates outstanding on and off track facilities for corporate, cultural and social entertainment.