Following an increase in international visitors in the past few years, the Roman Baths and Fashion Museum have introduced audio guides in four new languages: Dutch, Korean, Polish and Portuguese.
This brings the total number of audioguide languages available at the two museums to 12, plus a British Sign Language guide for deaf people and enhanced audio description for visually impaired people.
The choice of Dutch, Korean, Polish and Portuguese is based on visitor take-up and feedback.
Run by Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Roman Baths attracts more than 1 million visitors a year, making it one of the most visited heritage attractions in the United Kingdom. Approximately 40% of these visitors come from overseas, and 30% of the total speak a language other than English.
Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “It’s great news that even more visitors to the Roman Baths will now be able to hear information about the historic site in their own language. This is the latest move in our constant efforts to make the site fully accessible to as wide a range of people as possible.”
The biggest increase in recent years has been in the take-up of Mandarin audioguides at the Roman Baths, which has grown from 12,800 visitors in 2005, when they were first introduced, to 84,700 in 2015.
Cllr Anketell-Jones added: “This represents more than 8% of total visitors, a remarkably high number for any museum, and more than most national museums in London. Our Mandarin-speaking visitors now outnumber French, which until seven years ago was the most widely spoken language.”
Dutch, Korean, Polish and Portuguese audioguides are being introduced at the Fashion Museum at the same time in order to give visitors to both sites a consistently high experience. More than 20% of Fashion Museum visitors ask for audioguides in languages other than English – Mandarin and French also being the most popular languages there.
Audio guides are included in the Roman Baths and Fashion Museum admission price. They are currently available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian and British Sign Language. Visually impaired people can make use of enhanced audio description in English. There’s also a special children’s audioguide, and a light-hearted, conversational guide to the Roman Baths by author Bill Bryson.
The Roman Baths also offers information leaflets in more than 30 different languages, which helps to identify emerging overseas visitor trends. Russian was introduced in 2010 and Russian visitation peaked at 15,800 in 2013.