Churches ask for Games cash
Posted: 25 Apr 2007 @ 00:00
CATHEDRALS and historic churches — which already generate about £300 million a year for the economy — could generate millions more if they received government funding, a church body said this week.
In a submission to the Culture, Media and Sport committee, the Church Heritage Forum (CHF) said that church and cathedral tourism could help spread the expected benefits of tourism when London hosts the Olympic Games in 2012.
But the CHF argued that the potential will not be realised, as church tourism is not supported to the degree it deserves.
“Cathedrals and historic churches are a quintessential feature of our landscape. They are part of the historic narrative of our national identity which has a strong appeal for domestic and foreign visitors alike.
The current interest in genealogy and the tracing of ancestry is an area which could be promoted as part of 2012; churches are an integral part of this.”
Local initiatives have also shown that, by encouraging church tourism, visitor numbers can be increased by up to 120 per cent.
However, lack of funding is hampering efforts. In York, the National Railway Museum received a grant of £5.66 million in 2005/6, equivalent to £6.50 per visitor. York Minster, which attracted 895,000 visitors in 2006, received no assistance. It has to charge adult visitor £5.50 each to cover its running costs.
The CHF, which includes local and national representatives interested in heritage, concluded: “Churches are an existing resource, and there is no major development required to exploit it — except for the need to develop a national infrastructure and a co-ordinated marketing campaign.”
? Should the Government fund the Olympics less and the churches more?