The RCA and VisitEngland have today announced the top eleven racecourses in England and Wales for Visitor Attraction in 2014. The scheme, now in its sixth year, sees racecourses accredited by VisitEngland and for the first time allows racecourses to be benchmarked against other attractions assessed by the national tourism body.
Each racecourse is assessed, with their overall score reflecting a number of criteria, including the efficiency and friendliness of their customer service and the availability and cleanliness of facilities. As in previous years, all racecourses in England and Wales achieved the minimum standard required for VisitEngland accreditation, which equates to a ‘good’ rating.
The eleven racecourses that scored the highest marks in the VisitEngland assessments in 2014 are, in alphabetical order, Aintree, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Chester, Doncaster, Epsom, Goodwood, Haydock Park, Lingfield Park, Wincanton and York.
The similar scheme maintained by VisitScotland continued in 2014, with Musselburgh Racecourse once again achieving a five star (exceptional) rating. Ayr and Hamilton Park continued to receive four star (excellent) ratings, with Kelso and Perth receiving three (very good).
Coupled with the 2013 Deloitte price comparison study which highlighted that racing is the best value family day out vs other attractions, the VisitEngland study confirms that a day at the races is both a hugely enjoyable and cost effective day out.
For 2014 the RCA and VisitEngland have introduced ‘Excellence Accolades’, individual awards which represent very high standards in a particular area of the racecourse assessment. In 2015, the Excellence Accolades will also be assessed by VisitScotland, making all British racecourses eligible to win.
The inaugural winners of RCA Excellence Accolades in 2014 are:
Quality Café – Aintree
Visitor Information & Signage – Ascot, Chester, Lingfield Park, Uttoxeter, Wincanton
Fast Food Outlet – Cartmel, Doncaster, York
Bar Area – Goodwood
RCA Chief Executive Stephen Atkin commented, ‘we continue to be very proud of our partnerships with VisitEngland and VisitScotland, who provide an excellent impartial and independent assessment of our racecourses.
The ability that we now have to benchmark scores against other visitor attractions is very useful, and we believe that racecourses on the whole will compare very favourably in this regard. We are confident that this scheme shows the quality of day out that racecourses offer which, when considered together with the research conducted by Deloitte that shows the excellent value of going racing, is a strong indication of racing’s place amongst the top leisure and entertainment venues.’
The RCA will continue to work with VisitEngland and VisitScotland to promote British racecourses, including through the former’s #HomeofSport campaign, which encourages members of the public to submit their entries for their English ‘Home of Sport’. The winning entry will be announced by VisitEngland on Friday 23 October.
To read more about how VisitEngland assess each racecourse in England and Wales, please click here to read the Racing Post's 'On Location' piece, shadowing a Visit England Assessor at Salisbury Racecourse from October 2013.