Working closely with The Jockey Club and Cheltenham Racecourse, the University of Gloucestershire embarked on a project to put a cash figure on the value of the Cheltenham Festival, underlining its pivotal role in driving future growth in the local economy.

Every March Cheltenham businesses eagerly await the Festival. More than 248,000 race goers snap up any spare rooms, pack the cafes, restaurants and bars to bursting, and taxi drivers look forward to a long and lucrative night. It’s never been in any doubt that that this internationally-renowned horse racing festival helps drive the local economy – the big question was by how much.

The challenge for Cheltenham Racecourse was to establish a figure for its contribution to the local economy and encourage visitors coming from the UK and abroad to support this important research.

The solution was a collaboration with staff at the Centre for Contemporary Accounting Research (CenCAR) at the University of Gloucestershire to deliver an Economic Impact Analysis of the four-day Cheltenham Festival.

The categorisation of expenditure was gained from an online survey managed by Cheltenham Racecourse using a questionnaire developed to achieve the project goal. A survey was distributed to each party that attended the event asking about their expenditure, with a total of 4,356 responses. This included days attended and what, and where, they spent their money during their visit to the area.

Taken from information gathered at the event in 2015, the analysis revealed that it brings more than £100 million to the Gloucestershire economy. Professor Neil Towers, who oversaw the project on behalf of the University of Gloucestershire, added; “The Cheltenham Festival is a major contributor to the Gloucestershire economy and we were pleased to be invited to undertake the Economic Impact Analysis. From our analysis we were able to show where the money was spent over the four days which in turn helps Cheltenham Racecourse better target its activities to meet the customers’ requirements in future events.”

Published in March 2016, the Economic Impact Analysis generated widespread coverage across the print and broadcast media for Cheltenham Racecourse, boosting its local reputation and building the place brand of Cheltenham. Insight into where money was spent also allows Cheltenham Racecourse to make robust business decisions about how it meets future customer needs.

Ian Renton, Regional Director for The Jockey Club, South-West, said, “The University of Gloucestershire have produced a comprehensive report which has revealed a staggering figure of what the four day Festival brings to the Gloucestershire economy. We have known for many years that many of the local business have a significant turnover during the four days of The Festival but we are delighted that we have been able to put a figure on this impact and thank the team at the University for all their hard work in bringing this report to life.”

Through this research, the University was able to shine a light on the invaluable contribution of The Festival and its pivotal role in driving growth and business spend in Cheltenham and beyond.


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.