Religious buildings prove hit with tourists

St Paul's Cathedral attracts over a million visitors each yearPA

Religious buildings are a huge draw for international visitors to Britain, figures from VisitBritain have shown.

Last year, 6.7 million international tourists - 22% of the total visits to the UK - visited a religious building during their stay.

Visiting churches and cathedrals consistently rates highly as one of the top priorities for international tourists, VisitBritain said.

Among the frequently visited religious buildings are Glasgow Cathedral, St Paul's Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey.

Among the nationalities, Brazilians were the largest group of foreign visitors to a religious building in Britain last year (55%), followed by Australians and Americans (49%), and Russians and Chinese (45%).

VisitBritain said the research showed churches remain an important part of British tourism, with many visiting a church while on holiday.

It added that although churches and cathedrals were "not seen as a deciding factor" in choosing Britain as a destination, they had an "important impact" on the experience of visitors by offering them a "hidden opportunity to explore".

Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive 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."