‘Of course, San An­to­nio is pop­u­lar with Mex­i­can na­tion­als, and hav­ing a driver from Mex­ico helped us as well.’

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - Casan­dra Matej, Con­tact John Ma­her at 445-3956.

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.”

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