Go beyond the velvet ropes – it's one way to boost the UK economy
Sunday 28 March 2010
It's official. Coaxing ourselves out of the house in pursuit of a bit of culture isn't just good for us – it's excellent for the economy, too.
According to the Heritage Lottery Fund, "heritage tourism" contributes £20bn to our national coffers and could play an important role in economic recovery. So, next weekend, my family will be joining all the other DIY dodgers on a cultural day out at one of the many attractions whose gates will creak open for the first time this year.
The Easter weekend is key to UK tourism. The long public holiday, the school spring break, and an influx of international visitors all combine to kick-off the season. Of the £12.4bn spent on heritage tourism each year, £7.5bn is generated by UK residents on day trips and staycations. It's not just about historic buildings – monuments, galleries, museums, parks and wildlife sites all play a part.
But preserving our heritage is an expensive – and competitive – business. Charitable organisations such as the National Trust (nationaltrust.org. uk) and English Heritage (english-heritage.org.uk) run activity programmes for all ages, as they dream up innovative ways to keep the punters coming. Now, the National Trust is dropping the ropes and encouraging us to pull up a chaise longue in its "Going Local" strategy – pioneered at properties including Berrington Hall, Croft Castle, Upton House and Wightwick Manor. Last weekend's Bonus Time free-admission weekend enticed more than 200,000 visitors to experience this more touchy-feely Trust.
And, if you fancy gambolling in the grounds of a grand old house as if it were your own, National Trust Holiday Cottages is renting out more than 370 cottages in the grounds of historic buildings. Landmark Trust (landmarktrust.org.uk) also ploughs income from rentals back into preservation, and English Heritage has been doing just that since 2006. "Once the crowd leaves," says Carrie Penderson, of English Heritage Holiday Cottages, "the grounds are there for visitors to enjoy in privacy."
So, what are you up to at Easter? We're off to boost the economy.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
Thailand tourism video Love En Route criticised for featuring Instagram stalker
The Atlas of Beauty: Photographer travels around the world to capture cultural diversity through stunning portraits of women
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
Chief executive of Malaysia Airlines: The toughest job in travel?
The 10 Best hiking boots
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
£12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...
£23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...
£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...
£18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...