The Roman Baths & Pump Room has been named the third most-visited heritage site in the UK, after the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle.
Figures released from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), rank the central Bath site at number 19 of all major visitor attractions after it welcomed a total of 1,064,177 visitors last year – only slightly behind Edinburgh Castle (ranked 16), with the Tower of London in 7th place.
The ALVA report highlights how the Roman Baths & Pump Room continued to do well against the backdrop of London 2012 and last year’s bad weather. Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, commented on the success of refurbished attractions (such as the Roman Baths); suggesting that investment in such attractions offered clear benefits to the economy.
Bath & North East Somerset Council – who manage the site – has implemented a series of improvements to the heritage site, through its Roman Baths Development programme, to enhance the visitor experience – conserving the monument, re-telling the Roman story and making it more accessible for all. This has resulted in exceptionally high visitor recommendation, encouraging many more people to visit the site in 2011 and 2012.
2011 was the most popular year for a generation and, although there was a downturn of 6% in 2012 due to the Olympics and the bad weather – which reflected the nationwide trend – this was still amongst the best three years in the last decade for the Roman Baths.
Councillor Cherry Beath (Lib-Dem, Combe Down) Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “The Roman Baths has become ever more popular since the first phase of developments were completed, which is a testament to the hard work of all the staff involved, and the effectiveness of new measures to enhance the experience.
“It’s notable that nearly all of the other visitor attractions placed above the Roman Baths offer either significant or 100% free admission – making our heritage site among the most popular of the charging attractions – another truly remarkable achievement!
“Planned investment in the site by Bath & North East Somerset Council in 2013 and 2014 includes the project to deliver step-free access to the Roman Temple Precinct beneath the Pump Room, which will make the site 90% accessible to everyone. We will also improve the presentation of the finest piece in the museum’s collection – the life-sized gilt bronze head of the goddess Sulis Minerva.”
Enhancing enjoyment of the Roman Baths
Bath & North East Somerset Council has taken a number of measures to continually enhance people’s enjoyment of the Roman Baths, including:
- Bringing the stories of the people who used the buildings to the fore, with the help of the best of modern interpretation.
- Introducing real costumed characters who meet the public every day.
- Extending the audio guide interpretation to 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 environmental control in the Temple Precinct 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 extending audio guide interpretation to Russian, Mandarin and Japanese;
- Making the site more accessible to wheelchair users and people with restricted mobility;
- Cleaning and conserving the ancient stonework;
- Enticing groups to avoid the busiest times and come off-peak, and encouraging UK schools to come in the autumn and winter terms.
For more information about Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Roman Baths visitwww.romanbaths.co.uk or call 01225 477774.