A longer economic lead-in and the potential for an improved public health environment have been outlined by Tourism Accommodation Australia as benefits for the postponement of the 2021 Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
Announced late last week by Formula One management in conjunction with the Victorian Government and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, the four-day event has been moved from its traditional March timeslot and will instead run from 18-21 November 2021.
The move is expected to allow for the COVID-19 pandemic to further play out, for Australia’s vaccination program to run its course and for the potential for a greater health situation to be in play to hopefully minimise or entirely avoid disruptions to the race weekend overall.
Formula One – a highly international sport with more than 20 races in as many countries – was highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with 13 of the originally scheduled races cancelled. In return, the sport staged a mostly European calendar of events, with some races relabelled and held at the same circuit on consecutive weekends and impromptu events held at former and new circuits in order to meet the criteria for some semblance of an official championship to be recognised and for commercial agreements to be largely met.
The 2021 Australian Grand Prix will now take place two weeks after the Melbourne Cup and will add to a highly congested schedule for the city, with TAA Victoria General Manager, Dougal Hollis, saying he was hopeful that larger COVID-Safe crowds would be able to attend.
“The delivery of world class major events is ingrained in Victoria’s DNA. The revised timing perfectly positions the grand prix event between the completion of Melbourne’s popular Spring Carnival and start of the Australian International Airshow and Queenscliff Music Festival.
“The Airshow and Festival will also provide a timely boost for regional tourism and give motor racing fans a plethora of reasons to stay longer and explore our state.”
Hollis said the pent-up travel demand among Australians will hopefully yield strongly for Melbourne come Grand Prix time as domestic borders are relaxed and major events drive spending among the city’s hotels and tourism industry.
“As COVID-related domestic border restrictions continue to be progressively eased, major events will play an important role to refocus this spend on domestic travel and offset shortfalls in spend by absent international travellers,” Hollis added.
“It’s likely demand for accommodation will be strong too given race fans, starved of live action over the past year, will respond favourably when tickets go on sale.”