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Volume 530: debated on Thursday 30 June 2011

7. What steps the Church Commissioners are taking to promote tourism focused on church buildings and church heritage. (62909)

The General Synod passed a motion encouraging all dioceses to support church tourism and to link with a wider national church tourism strategy. The cathedral and church buildings division of the Church of England encourages best practice, including opening churches, welcoming visitors and providing interpretation, and it works closely with partners including the Churches Tourism Association, Cathedrals Plus and the Churches Conservation Trust.

My hon. Friend and I share a great passion for tourism organisations and our churches working together more effectively. Does he recognise that in east Kent we have a set of 10th, 11th and 12th century churches marking St Augustine’s way, and will he join me in making a representation to the Church of England to ensure that visitors understand and enjoy those churches more?

My hon. Friend is fortunate in representing a fantastic constituency, which, among its other attributes, was the place where St Augustine landed. I could cite at least three good examples of church tourism in my hon. Friend’s constituency, but, as I was accused during the last Church Commissioners questions of loquaciousness, I will resist that temptation and simply say that I will encourage the Bishop of Dover and, indeed, other bishops to ensure that hon. Members know of the efforts being made in all our constituencies to promote church tourism, because it is very important to make sure that as many people as possible can enjoy the heritage of our church buildings.