Turkey eyes Formula 1 gains

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey hosts its first Formula 1 grand prix this weekend and believes the event will generate serious money further down the road. Sunday’s race at the $70 million Istanbul Speedpark could eventually translate into $3 billion in additional revenues for an already booming tourism sector, industry representatives say. «This event will make a big contribution to this country and for the economy,» Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference. «People talk about the financial value but you can’t put a value on it in terms of the publicity which it brings to the country.» Turkey expects to generate some $18 billion from tourism this year and events like Formula 1 are expected to provide a massive boost in terms of free advertising. The arrival of Ferrari’s seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher and the rest of the grand prix circus is also being trumpeted as a major boost for the country’s international sporting profile. At the same time, officials are playing down security concerns fuelled by a series of bomb attacks across Turkey in recent months. «We are ready for Formula 1. Every measure has been taken in terms of security, customs, health, power and telecommunications,» Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said.