China Fuels Enthusiasm on Auto Racing

The enthusiasm on automobile racing in China was further fanned as two Chinese cities pledged here on Tuesday to jointly promote the image of two high-profile Grand Prix races.

With a 50-year experience of hosting the Macao Grand Prix Races(MGPR), Macao is willing to share its organizational experience and provide technical support and personnel training to assist Shanghai to host the 2004 Formula One Grand Prix, said Chui Sai On,secretary for Social and Cultural Affairs in Macao, here Tuesday.

The hospitality was echoed by Shanghai's offer to get involved in exploring the customer market for MGPR in the inland regions this year.

With a fast increase in the ownership of private cars in China,auto racing is no longer considered a fancy games enjoyed only by westerners. It is gaining popularity in the Chinese mainland as the younger generations can afford their own cars.

There is another reason for MGPR gave a special focus to the market this year. Guangdong Province, Beijing and Shanghai were given green lights by the central government to pilot a facilitated individual travel to Hong Kong and Macao beginning from this month, which is expected to substantially increase the source of spectators to MGPR.

The deal between Shanghai and Macao is mutually benefiting. Yu Zhifei, deputy manager of Shanghai Circuit, said that Shanghai is building a state-of-the-art racing circuit, which will boast the world's best auto racing facilities in the future years. However, what Shanghai lacks is the experience of hosting an international racing event. In this respect, Macao has a specialty with 50 yearsof history of hosting MGPR, which is almost as long as the historyof Formula One races.

Under the framework of the partnership, the two cities will notonly work together in the organization and promotion of the racingevents, but also create competition and training for racing drivers to get familiar with the racing events in Shanghai and Macao.

MGPR, known as a cradle of Formula One stars, is the pioneer ofChina's auto racing sports, which is still catching up with western players. As the world's only automobile sporting event containing all of Formula Three races, motor races and classic carraces, MGPR will celebrate the 50th birthday in September.

"MGPR is not only a sporting event, but a tourist product to Macao," said Chui adding that the development of the sports tourism is one of the tourist policies of the Macao Special Administrative Region government.

Approximately 180 media organizations from around the world wasdrawn by MGPR last year. Over 3.6 billion people from 63 countriesand regions watched the games live or on recorded TV programs.

For this year, tourist arrivals are estimated to hit 11 millionduring MGPR, which would equal to last year's total amount. By then, hotel room occupancy rate in Macao will soar up to 98 percent attributable to the appeal of the games, during which a variety of activities will be also staged to add the charms including the Fireworks Display Contest, the Portuguese Wine Festival and the Macao Food Festival.

People's Daily Online ---