ONE of the most incredulous stories this week – and perhaps this whole month – was that tickets to the Singapore GP will be pricier this year.
At a time when the mother of all recessions is forcing hotels to cut rates, restaurants to come up with imaginative buffets, tour operators to offer hard-times good-time packages, the organisers of the Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix deem it fit to raise prices.
In a news report carried in the Prime section of The Straits Times, the organisers were quoted as saying that rates will go up by 7 to 29 per cent in eight categories.
But – wait for this – early birds will get a discount of between 7 and 26 per cent.
This, to me, smacks of nothing more than a cheap attempt at whipping up interest in the race and appealing to the "kiasu" (afraid to lose) psyche of Singaporeans.
My advice is, don't fall for it.
Otherwise, you will end up like the dozens who booked suites in hotels around the circuit last year – only to find rates plummeting nearer to race day.
If you recall, many hotels were nowhere near the occupany levels they expected. And that was last year, before the financial crisis took hold.
With the world well into its worst recession in memory, do you think demand for tickets will be high?
For an inkling, look at the latest tourist arrival figures. The Singapore Tourism Board reported that the February number – 689,000 – was the lowest in four years.
Organisers of the Malaysian Grand Prix are already expecting a 20 per cent drop in ticket sales – driven by a sizeable shortfall in foreign visitors.
So, if you're an F1 fan, don't go into overdrive with panic. Like all goods and services in this economic climate, it's a buyer's market. And it will be a buyer's market for some time to come.
There are 72,000 tickets available for the Sept 25-27 race. It will just be a matter of time before a "clearance sale" arrives.
Like Elvis said; only fools rush in.