It hasn’t been the best of times to be able to boast about visitor numbers but the city’s Roman Baths still ride pretty high in the popularity stakes.
The Roman Baths & Pump Room was the 32nd most-visited attraction in the UK in 2020, according to figures just released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).
Despite being closed for 138 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic – and reducing visitor numbers to a maximum of 20 percent in order to enable social distancing and keep staff and visitors safe – the historic site welcomed 316,436 visitors during 2020.
This follows a record year in 2019, when the Roman Baths & Pump Room welcomed 1,325,085 visitors. The figures include daytime visitors to the Roman Baths and customers in the Pump Room restaurant.
Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services, said: “Whilst it is sobering to see the impact of the pandemic on visitor numbers to the Roman Baths, it is clear that our fortunes have been shared by other institutions across the UK, particularly those operating indoor attractions.
“From the figures released today, we can see that the Roman Baths & Pump Room was the 11th most-visited indoor attraction in the UK, pointing to its significance as one of the nation’s most popular landmarks.
“Despite the crisis, we safely welcomed over 316,000 visitors. Feedback tells us that the safety measures we put in place didn’t detract from people’s enjoyment of the site: they still appreciated being able to walk on Roman pavements, explore the museum and enjoy a glass of prosecco from the pop-up bar during the summer evenings.”
During the closures, the Roman Baths remained open online, keeping in touch with followers via social media, providing Roman-themed activities for people of all ages to enjoy at home, and offering interactive online sessions for schools and community groups.
Three Master’s students were offered ‘remote placements’, and the Roman Baths team contributed to activity packs which were sent to 650 local residents via Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Compassionate Community Hub (www.compassioncb.org.uk/wellbeingpacks).
Some Roman Baths staff were redeployed to help with the Covid-19 effort, for example making up food parcels and PPE packs, working as community drivers, and helping local businesses to apply for business support grants.
The Roman Baths is set to reopen on Monday 17 May, having been closed since the beginning of the year. Once open, there is an exciting series of activities planned for the summer, including late openings and a pop-up Prosecco Bar beside the Great Bath from 23 July until the end of August.
The Pump Room Restaurant will also reopen on 17 May for morning coffee, brunch and afternoon tea. Reservations can be made at thepumproombath.co.uk.
These dates are dependent on the government’s four-step roadmap out of lockdown – please check the Roman Baths website for the latest information.
Tickets from 17 May until the end of August are now on sale at www.romanbaths.co.uk.