The Roman Baths welcomed 975,000 visitors through its doors in 2011 – the highest number for 25 years – according to figures released by Bath & North East Somerset Council.
The Council has implemented a series of improvements to the site, through its Roman Baths Development programme, to enhance the visitor experience – including making it more accessible for all. This has resulted in exceptionally high visitor recommendation, encouraging many more people to visit the site in 2011. The Council is now focusing on quality rather than quantity – ensuring that visitor numbers are kept at a level that continues to offer a pleasing environment for all to enjoy.
Councillor Cherry Beath (Lib-Dem, Combe Down) Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “The Roman Baths has become ever more popular since the new developments were completed, and it is a testament to the hard work of all the staff involved, and the effectiveness of new measures to enhance the experience, that visitors last summer did not perceive crowding to be too high, as exit surveys show.
“We certainly have no intention of resting on our laurels as our investment is continuing. Future projects include delivering step-free access to the Temple Courtyard, underneath the Pump Room, which will make the site 90% accessible to everyone and improve the presentation of the finest piece in the museum’s collection – the life-sized gilt bronze head of the goddess Sulis Minerva.
“However Bath & North East Somerset Council is not trying to increase visitor numbers yet further. It anticipates welcoming 875,000 visitors in 2012, 100,000 fewer than 2011, which will give every person a high quality visitor experience without them facing significant overcrowding. The tourism industry will be disrupted this year due to the Olympics, Europe-wide recession and other factors, so we believe that this is a realistic objective.”
The Council, which manages the Roman Baths, has taken a number of measures to continually enhance people’s enjoyment of the heritage attraction, including:
- Providing individual audio guides for self-guided tours, which helps to spread visitor numbers rather than bunching visitors; these now include British Sign Language guides for the hard of hearing and audio description guides for the visually impaired;
- Installing new interpretation that can be viewed by many people together, and re-configuring the display spaces to reduce congestion;
- Installing new environmental control in the Temple Courtyard (underneath the Pump Room), which tended to be the hottest part of the visit;
- Promoting the Roman Baths to visitors from long haul destinations such as China and Japan, who tend to visit in the winter, and providing full interpretation in Mandarin and Japanese;
- Making the site more accessible to wheelchair users and people with restricted mobility;
- Enticing groups to avoid the busiest times and come off-peak, and encouraging UK schools to come in the autumn and winter terms;
- Actively managing groups and individuals at the entrance, and increasing maintenance to cope with the effect of extra visitors at peak times.
For more information about Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Roman Baths visit http://www.romanbaths.co.uk or call 01225 477774.