Research at three of the South East's cathedrals has revealed they are worth millions to their local economies.
Canterbury Cathedral is in England's top five historic attractions
Canterbury, Chichester and Guildford were among eight cathedrals which provided in-depth case studies for the report by English Heritage.
The study showed England's 42 Anglican cathedrals attracted nearly 9m visitors a year who spend £91m locally.
Canterbury, with Westminster Abbey and York Minster, is in England's top five historic visitor attractions.
The report found the 42 cathedrals employ 1,885 full-time workers, spending £25.9m per year on wages.
It said they offered huge opportunities for volunteers and in 2003 provided educational visits for 300,000 schoolchildren.
Almost 50% of the cathedrals reported increases in congregations.
The report was commissioned jointly with the Association of English Cathedrals.
It points out that although cathedrals are first and foremost places of worship, until now little consideration had been given to the boost they give to the local economy and the opportunities they offer for education, events and volunteering.
"Our cathedrals are at the very heart of England's heritage and, as this study shows, their contribution reaches far beyond bricks and mortar," said Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage.