VisitBritain, the official tourism website for Great Britain, is reporting that international visitors are flocking to the country’s religious buildings, with around 6.7 million international tourists visiting a religious building in 2011, and spending a total of around £5 billion during their stay.
The research conducted by the tourism agency shows that around 22% of the total visits to the UK in 2011 visited a religious building. Of the religious buildings, international visitors are most drawn towards the British churches and the cathedrals, such as the Glasgow Cathedral and St Paul’s Cathedral in London, St David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, Westminster Abbey, and Mappa Mundi in Hereford.
Of the countries visiting the UK on holiday, around 55% of visitors from Brazil visit religious places; while 49% of visitors from Australia and USA visit a religious building during a holiday; followed by Russia (45%) and China (45%).
Sandie Dawe, the chief executive officer at VisitBritain said: ‘Whether it’s for the glorious architecture, stained glass windows, connections with famous people or just some peace and quiet – religious buildings have become a fundamental part of our tourism offering.
Overseas visitors rate Britain 4th out of 50 nations for built heritage – it is one of the major drivers for international visitors and an asset where Britain is truly world-class.’
Earlier, in November 2012, the association reported a 5% increase in tourism to the UK in last year, over the same period of 2011. Overseas visitors have contributed £503 million to the UK economy in 2011-12, with a 3% increase in overseas tourist volume, and 8% in value since May 2010.