The Church in Wales has surveyed all its churches to identify resources that could help promote churches as tourist attractions. Every parish in Wales received a survey form from a group of tourism consultants.
"The preliminary results of this survey confirm that the Church in Wales has a superb opportunity to support and help churches develop strategies and maximise opportunities for ministering to visitors and pilgrims," said John Winton, the Board of Mission Projects and Resources Officer.
The survey asked for details of how often the church was open to visitors apart from normal services, the nature of the church building, and any physical 'treasures' that might be of interest to tourists or pilgrims. Some churches also had associations with famous people which can be an added attraction. The vast majority of the parishes which responded had some point of interest, but often the potential was not being realised.
"Already 3.5 million people a year visit our churches in Wales," said John Winton, "and it is encouraging that this survey shows that there is overwhelming agreement that churches could be more active in supporting visitors and pilgrims to our sacred buildings."
The results of the survey will be used to encourage parishes in their mission to pilgrims and tourists. The Church in Wales has organised an important conference on Church Tourism, which will feature contributions from politicians, church leaders, tour operators and the Chief Executive of the Wales Tourist Board. The conference aims both to encourage parishes to develop their churches as attractions for visitors, and to show the tourist industry the potential that Christian heritage has to offer.
"As a church we are keen to use these interesting buildings as a means of communicating the Christian message as well as providing spiritual solace for those who visit them," said John Winton. "We have an important obligation therefore in looking afresh at our churches, since they were built as signposts of the gospel and not as chapters in an architectural handbook."
Item from: Highlights