The region’s racing industry injects more than $38 million into the WA economy and is a driver of valuable social impacts in communities, a new study has found.
A South West Regional Snapshot prepared for Racing and Wagering WA highlighted 76,400 racegoers attended one of 77 race meetings across seven clubs last year, spending more than $4.2 million, excluding betting.
“For every $1 spent at the racecourse by customers, another $1 is spent in the local community on items such as retail, transport, tourism and food and beverage,” the report said.
The snapshot revealed a significant participation level in the industry, with one in 36 adults involved as a direct participant, employee or volunteer compared to a Statewide rate of one in 54 people.
Volunteering equated to about 184 people who gave their time or skill – the most in WA.
Busselton Trotting Club secretarytreasurer Pat Abbot said the sport was “huge” in the region, with more horses than northern regions and about 50 locally based trainers or from surrounding districts.
Mrs Abbot said people were the most sustainable asset, with the six-date summer season at Churchill Park filling a void of minimal night-time entertainment in Busselton.
“We are well supported – apart from Perth we have the biggest oncourse crowds, about 3000 per night,” she said.
“(It’s) because we have the holidaymakers and because we race at a viable time.”
While open to the development of a bigger track, Mrs Abbot said it was unlikely because RWWA limited the number of race meetings and would not spend money on a facility they did not own.
City of Busselton community and commercial services director Namoi Searle said the trotting club was an important part of the city’s “cultural and sporting make-up”.
In line with the Churchill Park Master Plan, no major changes to layout or infrastructure would be undertaken in the short term but upgrades were underway.
“These include the completion of a new loading dock on the eastern side of the grounds and improved electrical capacity,” Mrs Searle said.