They call it the sport of kings, and horse racing at Sri Lanka’s Royal Turf Club (RTC) in Nuwara Eliya is no exception. Moreover, with its excitement, glitter and fantastic sporting spectacle, it is also a major tourist attraction.
With the next season due to start on August 6, preparations are well underway to match and exceed the success of the March to April racing calendar, which saw one lucky owner take the first-ever Rs.1,000,000 winning purse.
The RTC bills itself as “born of a genuine and burning desire and passion for the development of the sport of horse racing … led by a group of professionals and horse racing enthusiasts who are keen on restoring to its former glory a sport that holds much promise and potential”.
CEO Wayne Wood recently noted that during last season’s five meetings, 35 races were run attracting 176 starters and Rs 11,053,250 in prize money.
“Not only was such a distribution of funds unheard of in Sri Lankan horse racing, but this money has circulated amongst the local businesses in Nuwara Eliya as well thus generating income at all levels.”
It also saw “a major boost in sports tourism in the area, with a massive increase in bookings at all hotels … a tremendous increase of 1,000 room nights, and overall the season saw an increase of 2,100 room nights”.
“This is a major flow-on effect when this industry is conducted in a professional manner. I can assure you that if any licensee were to be asked if they approved of the conduct of racing under the Royal Turf Club, you would receive a resounding YES”.
He added that “with tourism being a key foreign exchange earner, horse racing is bound to bring in many high spending tourists as is the case around the world, evidenced at the Royal Ascot, the Melbourne Cup, in Dubai, Japan, Hong Kong and elsewhere”.
“With the proper development of this sport, tourism will greatly benefit, resulting once again in the generation of employment both directly as well as indirectly, not forgetting valuable foreign exchange that will be brought into the country.”
Oportunity Sri Lanka (OSL), an organization aiming to “develop mutually beneficial ventures with our partners, investors, developers, and entrepreneurs”, is taking a close interest in the development of racing in Sri Lanka.
A business model based on the Dubai model “will not only generate higher profits for investors”, but that “tourism and fashion design are some of the industries that will benefit from horse racing, while increasing employment opportunities”.
“Adding vibrancy to the booming tourism industry of Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya horse racing looks forward to attract more overseas enthusiasts in August 2017.
“The hotels in Nuwara Eliya will reap the benefits of this annual event with high-spending visitors checking into the top range of ‘Little England’s’ choicest.
“OSL is inviting potential investors to partner in constructing hotels in the hill-country to accommodate the growing numbers of tourists visiting each year.”