Church Commissioners written answers: Church tourism and local economy

spelman170119eOn 26th June 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered two written questions from Jim Shannon MP (Strangford) on Church-based tourism and community development:

Jim Shannon MP: 271461 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England has taken to promote tourism to its churches and cathedrals.

Dame Caroline Spelman: The Church of England welcomes the Government’s new Tourism Sector Deal, which encompasses all our churches and cathedrals and will give a significant boost to our cultural heritage. Cathedrals in England attract over 10 million visitors a year, the majority as tourists.

The Church supports the work of the Churches Visitor and Tourism Association on several initiatives that help the public learn more about their local churches:

  • The Explore Churches website run by the National Churches Trust provides a single online gateway for anyone wanting to visit churches, whether as a tourist or a pilgrim.
  • The Church Heritage Record provides geo-located data on every Church of England church, including information on the history of the building where it is available. Local congregations are encouraged to add details of their church to this and to A Church Near You, to help people planning visits.

The Church of England also supports the Cathedrals Marketing and Communications Network to share best practice and coordinate national campaigns. Individual cathedrals encourage visitors through hosting special exhibitions, such as Luke Jerram’s Gaia, currently at Liverpool Cathedral, and Tim Peake’s space capsule, which was visited by over 170,000 people when on display at Peterborough Cathedral as part of a national tour.


Jim Shannon MP: 271462 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to encourage parishioners to support the local economy.

Dame Caroline Spelman: A recent study of the economic impact of cathedrals in England in 2014 showed that they generated around £220 million annually for the national economy. The report also showed that over 7,300 jobs depend on cathedrals, either through direct employment or the local economy.

Tourists and visitors to English cathedrals generate an additional £125m for the local economy through visitor-related spend, which takes place directly in the towns and cities where cathedrals are based.

No formal assessment has been made of the direct or indirect contribution of churches to the local economy.