Punchestown Festival: an economic boom for Kildare, and further afield

Busy week ahead

Conor McHugh


Conor McHugh



Punchestown Festival: an economic boon for Kildare, and further afield

File photo: Naas

It will come as no surprise to any Leinster Leader readers to learn that Punchestown Festival is a great economic boon for the immediate and surrounding areas.

A number of studies have been carried out and published that attempt to quantify that benefit - covering areas such as travel, spend inside the racecourse, spending outside the racecourse and spending on attire.

The most recent report, compiled in 2012, suggested that that amounted to a spend of €59.8 million, by 95,000 festival goers.

A similar survey in 2005 concluded that it was worth €43 million per annum.

And there’s no reason to think it would have not grown in the past five years since then.

Incidentally both surveys were carried out by academics in Maynooth University.

However, by virtue of the fact that Punchestown is situated in the middle of the thoroughbred county, it attracts plenty of locals to the events.

So, obviously a certain chunk of that €59.8 million must surely come from the local population.

It would be interesting to see how much of a tourism draw is the Punchestown Festival? How many of those who attend are coming from outside the area, and indeed the country?

And to what degree is the Festival a tourism product as well as (or instead of) being a horseracing event?

Does the Festival draw tourists who may not have considered coming to the Naas or Kildare area?

And is there a spinoff benefit for other nearby Kildare tourist attractions?

The 2012 survey found that 75% of racegoers were from outside Kildare.

However, 80% of them were only visiting Kildare to go to the Festival.

Just over 20% of racegoers had come from outside Ireland - this is consistent with the findings of the 2005 survey.

The vast majority of that 20% were from the UK. France, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and Germany all had a handful there. 12.6% flew to Ireland, and 2.6% got a ferry.

The 2005 survey also found that the average racegoer spent €750 in the course of their visit and that 35% of racegoers were coming to Kildare for the first time.

A little over 10% of the spend by Festival goers, €6.6 million was on travel according to the 2012 survey. (Incidentally, that’s a little short of what was spent on female attire!)

That €6.6 million is obviously part of the €24.8 million spent outside the racecourse - which also includes expenditure items such as

A little over nine percent of racegoers attended with business partners. The rest either travelled alone (6.6%) or with family, spouses, partners or friends.

A third of those who attended were there for the first time. Half of them went every year.

Both of those figures are good from a business point of view - they suggest a loyalty to a quality product, and growth.

On the other hand, 63% of all attendees only went one day, 16% went for two days, 8.6% three days, 4.2 for four days and 7.1% for all five days.

It can reasonably inferred that the 63% who attended only one day were probably locals. If you’ve travelled far, you’ll be more inclined to get more from your visit than one day. 36% attended on multiple days.

“Many people made a holiday out of their visit. Their average stay in the area was three nights. Nearly a quarter stayed for three nights, another quarter or so stayed for two nights and about 17% stayed for just one night. A significant 9% or so stayed six nights or more,” the report noted.

The hotels appeared to do well out of the Festival, apparently better than the B&B’s.

Of those who travelled almost three out of four of them stayed in hotels, and 17.7% in B&B’s.

Airbnb had not taken off in 2012 to the same degree, so it would be interesting to see what, if any impact it has had on the accommodation sector.