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Mat Coch writes:
Ticket sales for the Bahrain Grand Prix are well up on last year's numbers, according to reports emanating from the Gulf State, which link it to a new ticketing strategy offering discounts to early-bird fans.
Last year's event became a political hot potato as unrest within the country threatened to disrupt the race. It made headline news and many questioned whether the Grand Prix should go ahead at all.
Twelve months on concerns over the country have eased, with it all but dropping out of the international headlines, creating a seemingly far more peaceful and hospitable environment in which to host an international event. Officials though are claiming a surge in tickets sales to be the result of early bird discounts rather than the return of political stability.
"Our target in the Early Bird was to sell double the tickets compared to the same promotion last year; this year, we ended just short of doubling," said Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, chief executive of the Bahrain International Circuit. "We have definitely sold a lot more tickets at this point than last year, so this is a very good sign."
What Shaikh Salman neglects to mention was that last year's event attracted just 70,000 fans, though that didn't stop the Gulf Daily News claims of a 'massive crowd'. To imply that increased ticket sales this time around are purely the result of 'early-bird' discounts is far from the full picture.
Given the comparative peace in Bahrain it therefore follows that ticket sales will be up this year. However, to claim the success is due to marketing and promotion is applying spin to what was a serious situation twelve months ago, and which (hopefully) the sport doesn't look set to repeat this time around.
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