The Roman Baths has been named best large visitor attraction at the South West Tourism Awards.
The Roman Baths won two awards: a Gold in the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year category and Silver for International Visitor Experience.
Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “More than a million people visit the Roman Baths every year and of these at least 40% come from overseas. This increased footfall is also beneficial to businesses in and around the city and helps boost the local economy as a whole. We are delighted with the two awards, which reflect the huge efforts made by staff to ensure that all our visitors receive an outstanding welcome.”
Last year, the Roman Baths introduced audioguides in four new languages – Dutch, Korean, Polish and Portuguese – bringing the total number of audioguide languages to 12. Audioguides are available free of charge for visitors. Printed information leaflets are also provided in more than 30 additional languages. In 2016, Mandarin-speaking visitors exceeded 100,000 for the first time, and they now form more than 10% of total visitors.
Recent improvements have made the Roman Baths more accessible for disabled visitors. Four new lifts have been installed, along with handrails, ramps, lowered ticket office counters, wheelchairs for visitors to borrow, and a new accessible toilet. The site has also been made more accessible to visitors on the autism spectrum, with detailed guidance about what to expect provided on the website.
Due to their popularity, the cast of Roman characters around the Great Bath has been expanded to include Candidina, a lady from Metz (now in France) who is visiting the Temple of Sulis Minerva to pray for a cure for her deteriorating eyesight.
In spring 2017, the East Baths will be updated with new projections, soundscapes and CGI reconstructions showing the Roman Baths at the height of their popularity as a working, living and leisure space. Roman characters of all social classes will interact with each other and visitors will be invited to watch, listen and step into the Roman Baths as they would have looked in the first to fourth centuries.
The South West Tourism Excellence Awards recognise the ongoing quality development of tourism businesses in the region and reward the staff that work in them. They have a rigorous three-stage judging process, and most entrants are visited by a team of mystery shoppers.
The Roman Baths will now be entered into the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, which will be announced on 24 April 2017 at the Hilton Waldorf Hotel in central London.