Well, it just shows you how important Bath’s archaeological heritage is to the local economy as we hear the Roman Baths welcomed a record-breaking 1,325,085 visitors in 2019.
That enabled it to maintain its spot in the top 25 most-visited attractions in the UK according to figures just released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).
The historic site was the third most-visited attraction in England outside London and the seventh most-visited charging attraction in the UK.
Last year’s visitor numbers were the highest on record, up from 1,302,381 in 2018. The figures include daytime visitors to the Roman Baths and customers in the Pump Room restaurant.
However, the impact of COVID-19 has seen the council’s income from heritage services – including the Roman Baths – fall by £4m in April and May 2020 compared with the same period last year due to the museums’ closures on March 19.
The Roman Baths reopened on July 6 with extra safety measures including welcoming visitors to a maximum of 30% of the site’s normal capacity, pre-booking all admissions, and delaying the return of group visitors until at least September.
One-way routes with two-metre markers are in place, as well as screens in reception areas, staff marshalling at key points to ensure physical distancing takes place and an increased cleaning regime.
Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “It’s great news that the Roman Baths enjoyed a record year in 2019. Visitors to the Roman Baths help generate income for essential council services and benefit businesses in the wider area.
“Despite 2019 being our busiest year ever we saw fewer visitors in the peak summer months, as a new pricing strategy supported growth in the winter and spring when the site has greater capacity.
“Of course, the closure of the Roman Baths during lockdown has had a big impact on the council’s finances as a whole and we don’t yet know how much Government compensation we will receive to mitigate this. However, I am pleased we were able to reopen the Roman Baths on July 6 with physical distancing and other safety measures in place, and we are already receiving excellent feedback from those who have visited.”
Tickets for August are now on sale, and the Roman Baths will be open in the evenings until 8pm (last admission 7pm) on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during August.