‘Of course, San Antonio is popular with Mexican nationals, and having a driver from Mexico helped us as well.’
San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau Friday.
Wearden said there were travelers from Germany, France, Italy, England, Argentina and Canada. But most of the international customers came in large groups from Mexico, especially from Guadalajara, which is about 300 miles northwest of Mexico City.
The attraction for those fans was Guadalajara’s Sergio Perez of the Sauber race team. Perez is Mexico’s first Formula One driver in decades.
According to San Antonio officials from the city’s airport department, commercial flights from Mexico added an additional 1,100 seats during race week through either additional flights or larger planes.
Private flights also increased. Customs officials said on Friday, Nov. 16, 83 private planes arrived in San Antonio from outside the U.S., and there were 229 such flights that week.
Many of those flights came from Mexico, airport officials said.
Mery said San Antonio visitors who saved on hotels also enjoyed rela- tively quick trips to the racetrack, which is southeast of Austin. Mery said the traffic jams that were predicted never materialized, and trips from San Antonio to Austin ran about 90 minutes.
Marco Barros, president and CEO of the San Antonio Tourism Council, said he was on the Riverwalk that weekend and estimated about onequarter of the people were wearing Formula One or other racing gear.
Casandra Matej, executive director for the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau, said: “From hotels and restaurants we have heard there was a noticeable uptick in the level of items, food, beverage, etc. being selected. This is obviously an upscale, international, well-traveled audience, and the impact of their good tastes and expectations was felt here in San Antonio. Of course, San Antonio is popular with Mexican nationals, and having a driver from Mexico helped us as well.”
Next year Mexico will have two drivers, with Perez moving to the higher profile McLaren team while Esteban Gutierrez will have a ride with Sauber.
Mery said that because race traffic was handled so smoothly this year, there’s no reason why Circuit of the Americas couldn’t accommodate more fans next year.
Mery said, “If there’s another 200,000 fans, 5,000 or 10,000 of those can fit in San Antonio.”