ALVA figures show Canterbury is the fourth most-visited cathedral in the UK
The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), whose members include the UK's most popular, iconic and important museums, galleries, palaces, castles, cathedrals, zoos, historic houses, heritage sites, gardens and leisure attractions, released the 2022 visitor figures of its members today (Friday 17 March 2023) at the start of English Tourism Week and during Scottish Tourism Month.
The figures reveal a positive story of visitors returning to UK sites in strong numbers, but demonstrate that many more visitors – including those from overseas – are still needed in order to return to pre-pandemic levels.
The total number of visits to ALVA sites in 2022 was 123.4million, which was a 69% increase on the previous year (73.1 million) but represented a decline of 23% on the 161.2 million visits in 2019 to the top 349 ALVA sites.
According to the ALVA figures, Canterbury Cathedral is the fourth most-visited cathedral in the UK and one of the Top 10 most-visited ALVA sites in the South East, and its visitor numbers show a similar trend:
- In 2022, the Cathedral saw a 64% increase in visitors compared to 2021, but this is still nearly a third (30%) below its pre-pandemic visitor numbers.
- Although this performance in 2022 is broadly similar to that reported by ALVA members as a whole, the figures demonstrate that Canterbury Cathedral has been harder hit and is recovering at a slower pace than the average.
Canterbury Cathedral is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site but typically receives no funding from Government or the Church of England. It costs over £20,000 per day to maintain and operate the unique site, and visitor income is the Cathedral’s main source of revenue.
Celebrating the ALVA figures, the Dean of Canterbury, The Very Reverend Dr David Monteith, said
“We are thankful that so many people have visited in the past year but are very aware of the ongoing work of recovery - there is a long way to go and much to do. Our volunteers and staff love to welcome visitors and pilgrims. We also rely on them as do so many others in the city and neighbourhood. Visitors help to ensure our community flourishes once more. They help us to continue to be good stewards of this place which so many love and from which so many gain inspiration for life, for faith and for a diverse and cohesive community.
We have lots of exciting events planned for this year, and we are planning that 2023 will see our visitor numbers continue to grow. Let’s all encourage people to visit.”