York bets on high-spending horseracing fans

Visit York has saddled up with other destinations associated with horseracing to promote the ‘Sport of Kings’ to the Gulf market.

The ‘Horseracing – Sport of Kings’ campaign was launched by VisitBritain during the Dubai World Cup horseracing meeting in March, and promoted at Arabian Travel Market (April 22-25), also in Dubai.

York is working with fellow racecourses in Ascot, Royal Windsor, Chester and Newmarket, as well as American Express Middle East, to promote new itineraries to the Gulf market.

Michelle Brown, Visit York’s marketing manager, represented the key partners in the campaign at ATM and met dozens of Arabian tour operators during the event.

As well as racing, the destinations also offer other attractions to visitors, including Windsor Castle near Ascot and Windsor; the Roman walls of Chester; and the royal palaces of Newmarket – from where the term ‘Sport of Kings’ comes.

Visit York has teamed with York Racecourse (pictured) and The Grand Hotel & Spa to create upmarket itineraries for tourists from the Gulf to discover more of England’s racing heritage.

A new training programme for the travel trade covers the history of races in England; the wider offer of York, Chester, Ascot, Royal Windsor and Newmarket; luxury packages, such as hidden tours of York Minster; VIP tours of the Castle Howard; and five-star hotels such as The Grand Hotel & Spa – the only five-star hotel in Yorkshire.

Brown said: “There is no experience more quintessentially English than a day at the races, at the most iconic, historic racecourses that the country has to offer.

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to work with other world-renowned English horseracing destinations to promote to a brand new market.

“It has been fantastic to showcase these new top-end horseracing itineraries at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.”

Staff from the destinations involved in the campaign have received cultural training about how to welcome guests from the Gulf Cooperation Council markets (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates).

Tricia Warwick, VisitBritain’s interim director for Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, said: “The GCC is one of the most valuable inbound markets for VisitBritain, hence we have chosen this region to launch for these bespoke luxury itineraries.

“Our aim is to build on the growth we have seen, showcasing that Britain is bursting with wonderfully unexpected experiences that visitors can’t get anywhere else.”

William Derby, chief executive and clerk of the course at York Racecourse, added: “The opportunity to work with the other courses as well as the tourism experts in this field was too good to miss.

“We are proud of our races which regularly feature amongst the best in the world and we are proud of being part of our home city since 1731.

“The chance to combine the two and share them with international visitors makes this an exciting project.”

Picture shows York racecourse.

Home page picture shows spectators at York racecourse. ©VisitBritain/Grant Pritchard.