With the UAE’s love of all things horsey, it’s a wonder nobody thought to package the UK’s racing heritage

into bite-sized tours before. Five racecourses across England have banded together to create bespoke itineraries for travelers from the region, both to diversify the nation’s tourist appeal beyond London and to cater to unmet market demand.

Tricia Warwick

“We have seen real interest in visiting Great Britain, and our consumer research has identified that the opportunity to experience English horse racing will provide a strong reason for people to visit again, or encourage them to make the trip for the first time,” says Tricia Warwick (right), Interim Regional Director — Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa at VisitBritain.

Travellers can truly immerse themselves into racing activities at storied venues such as Royal Ascot, Newmarket, York, Chester and Royal Windsor, where they can meet trainers, owners and jockeys for an inside view of English horse racing.

The packages will be tailored according to the traveller and are expected to range between Dh7,000 and Dh30,000 a head, Warwick says. A top-tier sample tour may include business class flights into Manchester and private transfer to The Mere Golf and Spa resort, with time to explore the Cheshire countryside and shop in medieval Chester. Besides VIP access at Chester racecourse, a fan could catch a Manchester United home game at Old Trafford and following a transfer to Windsor for Monday night racing with the added lure of experiencing the build up to the Royal wedding of the year, ending with a few nights in London.

An entry-level option could comprise economy class flights to Heathrow, accommodation at the Bedford Lodge Hotel and Spa, a tour of Newmarket’s world-famous training grounds with an inside look at a working racing yard, including a visit to the weighing room, press room and royal box, access to the VIP Stallion Parade and a transfer to London. 

For now the packages are being marketed in collaboration with American Express Middle East, but they will also be retailed via agents after this week’s Arabian Travel Market. “As travellers are becoming more experiential, we believe that the itineraries will drive a lot of interest due to their unique and bespoke nature,” Warwick tells GN Focus.

“These packages are a first for the market and reinforce our commitment to developing new and exciting products that inspire travellers from the region to visit the UK. The UK and UAE share a common passion for horses and horse racing, with both Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum being prominent figures in the equestrian industry,” Warwick adds.


etween January and September of last year, there were a record 655,000 visits from the GCC to the UK, up 7 per cent when compared with the first nine months of 2016.