Entrance fees are taking their toll on visits to cathedrals
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.”