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University of Gloucestershire study reveals Cheltenham Festival is worth £274 million to local economy

10 March 2023
The Business Magazine article image for: University of Gloucestershire study reveals Cheltenham Festival is worth £274 million to local economy

A special report by University of Gloucestershire indicates that last year’s Cheltenham Festival – one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar – was worth an estimated £274 million to the local economy.

The figure is nearly three times the estimated total for the event in 2016, when jump racing’s most prestigious four days secured approximately £100 million for local businesses.

The figures are contained in a report released on Friday by Cheltenham Racecourse which assesses the impacts of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival on the local economy through the use of Economic Impact Analysis (EIA).

This methodology examines the effect of an event on the economy of a specified area, in this case Cheltenham Racecourse, and measures the potential direct impact on the local economy.

The key findings of the project, led by the University’s Finance in Society Research Institute (FSRI), were:

  • The total economic impact (direct and indirect) of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival is estimated at £274 million – up from an estimate of around £100 million when the project was last undertaken in 2016.
  • More than half of racegoers make a return trip to and from Cheltenham on the day they attend The Festival.
  • Of those not making a return trip to the town, about a third of attendees arrive a day or more before The Festival and stay at least a day or more after the festival.
  • The average expenditure of attendees at The Festival increased from £584 in 2016 to £697 in 2022.
  • Attending The Festival was on the ‘bucket list of things to do’ for two-thirds of the participants (67 per cent), and more than half (53 per cent) of respondents ‘always or usually attend’ the Festival.

Results were compiled by the University from an online survey managed by Cheltenham Racecourse using a questionnaire developed to achieve the project aim. A survey was distributed to each party that attended asking about their expenditure during the event.

Dr Charles Afriyie, Senior Lecturer in Accounting within the Gloucestershire Business School at the University and Director of the FSRI, said: “The project undertaken by University of Gloucestershire in 2016 was the first time the impact of the Cheltenham Festival on the local economy had been properly researched and analysed.

“Seven years later, it is fascinating to see how The Festival has continued to grow, including in its beneficial effect on the economy in the Cheltenham locality.

“We hope our project will prove useful for Cheltenham Racecourse in its planning for the years ahead.”

Ian Renton, the Jockey Club’s Regional Managing Director for the West Region, said: “We welcomed a record crowd of 280,627 over the four days of The Festival in 2022 and it is very satisfying to see that have such a tremendously beneficial effect on the wider economy in the Cheltenham area.

“Our links with the local community are strong, and earlier this week we announced an enhanced version of the ‘Love Our Turf’ campaign at the Festival to put engagement with and the needs of our local residents and businesses at the heart of the event.

“I would like to thank everyone at University of Gloucestershire who worked on this project – it has provided us with so many useful insights to help us plan for future Festivals.”

Around sixty thousand people a day are expected to visit the four-day national hunt festival, which runs from Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 March.

And on the final day – when riders compete for the famous Cheltenham Gold Cup – that figure is likely to push 70,000.

Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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