The continual trampling of millions of tourists' feet each year is wearing out England's historic cathedrals, according to a report published here by the English Tourist Board.
The report says, "During the past decade the dramatic increase of visitors to cathedrals has set up a visible process of deterioration."
It adds that trendy footwear is making matters worse. "Clogs or stiletto heels (now fashionable here again) are begining to make a dramatic impact on even the hardest of floors, and although the damage is slow, it is irreversible," the report says. "The reintroduction of stiletto heels poses a new threat which must be faced up to immediately before further damage is incurred."
The report says that wear and tear is much more of a problem than vandalism which "is not related so much to the flow of visitors so much as to the location of the cathedrals in areas of urban decay, with their associated social problems."
Of all the facilities offered to visitors, cathedral shops come out as by far the most popular, and the report recommends cathedrals to do everything posisible to improve their revenue-for the average tourist spends four times as much on souvenirs as on donations.
The report also suggested that cathedrals should consider making charges for admisstion since, left to themselves, visitors donate an average of only six cents each.
As an example, the report mentions Bath Abbey in western England which began inviting people to pay 20 cents in the summer of 1975. The report says this not only had a dramatic effect on the amount of revenue raised but stopped people setting fire to hassocks there and using the inside of the abbey as a lavatory.
At lease 24 out of 41 cathedrals and greater churches visited in England are now charging admission for at lease parts of their buildings.