En­trance fees are tak­ing their toll on vis­its to cathe­drals

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Olivia Rudgard RE­LI­GIOUS AF­FAIRS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

BRI­TISH cathe­drals and churches have seen a drop in vis­i­tors as en­trance fees ap­pear to be putting off tourists, a Visit Eng­land re­port said.

While at­trac­tions across the coun­try ex­pe­ri­enced a two per cent rise in vis­i­tors from 2015 to 2016, re­li­gious des­ti­na­tions ex­pe­ri­enced an eight per cent drop, and there was a 12 per cent fall among sites that charged an en­try fee.

The re­port’s data sug­gested Lon­don cathe­drals were par­tic­u­larly badly hit, as vis­its to West­min­ster Abbey fell by 27.8 per cent and those to St Paul’s Cathe­dral fell by 5.6 per cent.

Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral, which charges £12.50 for an adult en­try ticket, re­ported a sim­i­lar fall. Rev­enue also fell by one per cent.

“Aside from places of wor­ship, all types of at­trac­tion in­creased their gross rev­enue in 2016. It is worth not­ing that places of wor­ship were also the cat­e­gory with the high­est in­crease in ad­mis­sion charges,” the re­port said.

There had been an 18 per cent rise in the ad­mis­sion fee charged by churches and cathe­drals, to an av­er­age of £10.17, although this fig­ure was based on a small sam­ple size of five in the re­port.

Many free cathe­drals, in­clud­ing Bath Abbey, Durham Cathe­dral and Ripon Cathe­dral, re­ported strong growth.

Adrian Door­ber, chair­man of the As­so­ci­a­tion of English Cathe­drals, said the fig­ures sug­gested that vis­i­tors were di­ver­si­fy­ing out­side Lon­don.

“I think we will be feel­ing the ben­e­fit of more vis­i­tors this year and we should be well on track to reach­ing the 11mil­lion vis­i­tors we ex­pect to visit our cathe­drals,” he said.

A spokesman for the Church of Eng­land said: “The pri­mary pur­pose of all our 16,000 churches and cathe­drals is as places of wor­ship for all.”

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