Council chiefs look for ways to increase the profitability of Bath's popular tourist attractions
Bath & North East Somerset Council is rare in that the museums and attractions it operates collectively make a profit, this year the surplus generated by the Fashion Museum and Roman Baths rose by 18.6 per cent to £4.3 million, proving that investment in improving Bath tourist attractions is paying off. This money boosts council coffers and is ploughed back into local services.
The Roman Baths have had a £5.5 million facelift and there are plans to open a Roman Baths Café in the Abbey Church Yard later this year. The Fashion Museum has attracted extra visitors with exhibitions such as the Diana’s Dresses event and the current ‘What will she wear?’ event featuring wedding dresses from the past.
With government funding cuts hitting hard Bath & North East Somerset Council are looking for ways to further increase the profitability of its attractions and a number of possibilities are being considered.
One proposal is to open the Roman Baths for public swimming on regular dates throughout the year, allowing Bath residents to fully experience Roman style bathing.
The Fashion Museum collections contain many items not on permanent display; some of these can be seen in the ‘Behind the Scenes’ exhibition currently being held at the museum. The possibility of the public being able to hire some of the stored costumes for fancy-dress parties and corporate events is being considered as one way of increasing the museum’s potential income.
Some of the most ambitious proposals being considered are for Royal Victoria Park, with the city centre’s largest green space being seen as having several potential money-spinning prospects.
The summer months could see tents and caravans being pitched in the park with several areas having been identified as ideal campsites such as the land in front of the Royal Crescent; it is thought that the prospect of being able to bring their own accommodation with them would encourage substantially increased visitor numbers to the city. Local guesthouse owners have concerns that these plans could have detrimental effects on their own income.
With the council’s Parks and Green Spaces Maintenance budget facing cuts plans have been mooted to turn parts of the park over to allotments attracting rental income. Allotment holders would be encouraged to each use part of their plot to create colourful displays of flowers or ornamental vegetables in order to maintain the park’s aesthetic appeal.
Perhaps the most ambitious project being considered is the installation of an outdoor gym within Royal Victoria Park. There would be some capital expenditure involved in the project but the investment could soon pay off as the gym’s equipment, such as exercise bikes and treadmills, would be linked up to generators that would convert the energy expended by the gym’s users into electricity that could be used to help power Bath’s street lights at night.
Local residents are being invited to come forth with their own suggestions of ways in which income and profits can be increased for the city’s tourist attractions; if you have any ideas please fill in the quick feedback form below; Guide2Bath will pass on the best ideas to Avril Foley, co-ordinator of the project.
Mimi Noor - Woman's Designer Denim Bath