Chester Racecourse is at the heart of a new tourism project aimed at boosting the visitor economy in the area.
Royal Racecourses – the Sport of Kings is one of a number of successful projects to receive funding from the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund administered by VisitEngland.
And Cheshire West and Chester Council has been successful in securing part of that grant funding.
The winning project brings together England’s premier racecourses, along with the luxury product offering available in their vicinity. The funding is aimed at testing suitable overseas markets and ultimately boosting the visitor economy.
As lead partner, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Rural Growth Team will be working closely with key partners including Marketing Cheshire to deliver this project, testing of a new proposition which brings together some of the most significant racecourses in the UK together with luxury offerings in nearby cities targeted at the high spend international market of Middle East countries.
Cllr Louise Gittins, Cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “This is a great project which will help showcase what we have here in Cheshire, but also as part of a collective working with other like-minded partners in the horse racing world across England, boosting our local visitor economy.”
VisitEngland chief executive Sally Balcombe added: “The calibre of submissions reflects the innovation in product development thriving across the country’s tourism landscape. The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England.”
The project partners will work very closely with the travel trade to scope what offers there currently are in terms of attracting international visitors to racing in the UK, as well as to assess the competition from other markets. It will ensure that any new product is unique and builds on existing international interest.
The strong project partnership will benefit from close working relationships between each of the respective tourism or destination management organisations and their relationships with the relevant racecourses:
Chester – Marketing Cheshire and Chester Race Company; York – Make It York and York Racecourse; Newmarket – Discover Newmarket and Newmarket Racecourse; Windsor and Maidenhead – Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and Royal Windsor and Ascot Racecourses.
As lead partner, Cheshire West and Chester Council has significant experience of the racing industry, having set up and successfully run the Cheshire Racing Hub, primarily funded by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).
To date the project has focussed on working with the industry, flat and jump racing partners, the racecourse and local education providers to connect careers for young people and raise awareness of opportunities within the racing industry regionally, nationally and internationally. This experience will contribute to the development of this project, and the long term sustainability of any future product.
The project will work collectively to design and test a new proposition to the international market, using what each of the partners have to offer;, for example in Chester, closeness to Manchester Airport, unique racecourse, high profile racing yards, heritage offer and luxury shopping.
England boasts a significant racing heritage and a number of special racecourses. Individually they enjoy strong domestic visitor numbers.
By packaging racing related itineraries across more than one racecourse, with luxury accommodation offers in unique heritage destinations, there is great scope to develop racing break offers for international markets.
Collaboration is important because a single racecourse does not offer racing every week, so to present a full package they need to work together, offering the potential for visitors to take advantage of more than one race meet per visit and presenting multiple booking opportunities for international tour operators.
Katrina Michel, CEO at Marketing Cheshire, said: “An important part of the project will be scoping the relevant audiences and target markets to ensure that itineraries are developed with maximum potential pull.”
The project plans to combine the racecourse experience as one element within broader itineraries which showcase the luxury product offerings and combined added value experiences nearby. The project will work with UK and in-market travel trade and airlines to develop these unique itineraries into bookable packages. Once market-tested, there is potential for the theme to be broadened to encompass additional premier racecourses in England.
The project has secured £250,000 from the Discover England Fund and will run from July 2017 to March 2018.