THE number of visitors to retreat houses is forecast to rise
over the next few years - even though several centres have closed -
a new survey suggests.
The survey, by the Association for Promoting Retreats (APR), of
200 people who regularly book retreats, found that retreat houses
could expect up to ten per cent more bookings by 2017.
When asked how they expect their retreat-going will change in
the next three years, almost one respondent in five - 18.5 per cent
- said that they expected to take more retreats, and only eight per
cent said that they expected to go on fewer. This growth outstrips
that predicted for quiet days, which is forecast to grow by just
four per cent.
Retreat houses have struggled in recent years to remain
financially viable, and several diocesan houses have closed. A
survey of retreat houses conducted by the APR last year found that
a quarter feared closure (News, 1 November
But this latest poll that found that those who take retreats are
loyal. A majority - 63 per cent - take them once or twice a year,
and are prepared to travel more than 100 miles for a retreat.
Two-thirds of respondents were of retirement age.
The main barriers to going on retreats were work or family
commitments; a third of those who took part in the survey said that
cost was an inhibiting factor.
The vice-chair of the APR, the Revd Liz Baker, said: "These
figures are a rousing vote of confidence in what retreat houses are
offering in their own contexts up and down the country. While it is
often assumed that non-residential events are the future, this
wide-scale poll shows a growing demand for longer retreats, perhaps
suggesting that church members are looking to invest a little more
in their retreat experience, when they are able to find the time,
rather than snatching a series of brief respites."