Our stately homes and castles

By | Category: Travel news

the Roman Baths in...Bath

Ask an overseas visitor what they like about the UK and they don’t waste long is saying that it is our castles, our heritage and how well we “do” pomp and ceremony that attracts them.

You might say that having jubilees, royal weddings and births, and Downton Abbey bolsters the importance and that the tourism people would like something royal or heritage linked every year and you’d probably be right. Because research just published by the Heritage Lottery Fund suggests that heritage is much more important to us than was previously thought. Heritage-based tourism is now worth £26.4billion to the UK economy each year – £5.8bn higher than the previous estimate published in 2010. The new report also suggests that heritage is playing an increasingly important part in the choices of Brits who decide to stay in the UK for their holiday – over a quarter of all UK holiday activities undertaken by UK residents now involve heritage.

It’s more important than the advertising, car manufacturing or film industries. Overall, tourism is the sixth largest industry in Britain and Britain is the 7th most popular destination in the world. It generates £134bn p.a. for the UK economy (9% of GDP – 2012), directly supports over 2.7m jobs (9.1% of the total workforce) and is the UK’s sixth largest export earner.

So the appeal of the re-enactment at Tewkesbury this weekend that CD-Traveller mentioned yesterday is more easily explained that I had thought. This love of our history, heritage and culture is greater than and certainly matches the views that overseas visitors have of us. It explains why so many of us, well over 5 million, are members of the various National Trusts and bodies like Heritage Scotland, Cadw and English Heritage.

There are even almost half a million volunteers, those stalwarts who keep homes and castles open for us to visit and without whom you can easily imagine that places would have to close, be sold off or be demolished. So if you are visiting one of our heritage sites this weekend, you are one of millions who are taking pride and enjoyment in our past. And take some sun screen. ts going to be another hot one in most places!

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