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Church poised to capitalise on Lake District heritage status
The Lake District has joined the likes of the Grand Canyon and the Taj Mahal by being awarded Unesco World Heritage status and the Archdeacon of West Cumberland says the Church could benefit from it.
Rev Canon Dr Richard Pratt told Premier the award is "tremendously important" for the area and explained the wider impact on churches around the national park: "These places are not well visited actually and yet also tremendously interesting places.
"I suppose that one of the hopes might be actually the fact that the Lake District has world heritage status means that other people come to the bits beyond the Lake District national park."
The national park was one of 33 sites around the world to be discussed by The United Nations' cultural organization committee in Krakow, Poland.
It is the 31st place in the UK and overseas territories to be put on the Unesco World Heritage List.
Christian MP Tim Farron, whose Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency is in south Cumbria, said: "This is fantastic news for our area, and for the local tourist economy.
"This well-deserved status is a formal recognition of the outstanding natural beauty of the Lake District, and will help to further promote our area as the UK's leading rural tourist destination.
He said the Lake District must remain a viable place for local people to live and added: "The Lake District must be a place where local people can afford to live, raise a family and find work so that rural communities can thrive."
Roughly 18 million people visit each year, spending a total of £1.2bn and providing about 18,000 jobs.
Speaking about the benefits of visiting the park Canon Pratt said: "I think it's a place where people can interestingly begin to feel closer to God and one of the things we as a county are working at is tourism.
"So we've got a thing called 'mountain pilgrims' which is sort of beginning to be a fresh expression of church which is encouraging people to make a link between natural beauty and the sense of awe and wonder which they feel at that and then a sense of awe and wonder at the Creator who created this wonderful beauty."
Other UK Unesco sites include Stonehenge, Durham Castle and Cathedral, and the city of Bath.
Listen to Rev Canon Dr Richard Pratt speaking with Premier's Eno Adeogun: