Ef­forts be­ing made to fill £450m Bath tourism gap

Western Daily Press - - News - RICHARD MILLS news@west­erndai­ly­press.co.uk

ABATH art gallery and mu­seum will stay shut un­til 2021 while ef­forts are made to fill the £470 mil­lion tourism hole caused by the coron­avirus out­break.

Tourists vis­it­ing Bath brought in the huge fig­ure in 2019 for the lo­cal econ­omy and Bath fig­ure­heads are now try­ing to find ways to bring in ex­tra, al­ter­na­tive rev­enue.

That rev­enue won’t come from The Fash­ion Mu­seum and the Vic­to­ria Art Gallery, as they will re­main closed un­til April, coun­cil­lor Paul Cross­ley said at a vir­tual Bath tourism meet­ing.

Mr Cross­ley, cab­i­net mem­ber for com­mu­nity ser­vices, said the art gallery and mu­seum are stay­ing shut as they would “run at a loss” if they stayed open in the cur­rent cli­mate.

But Visit Bath, Bath MP Wera Hob­house, Bath and North East Som­er­set Coun­cil, and more, are try­ing to find ways to find new ways for tourism to boost the econ­omy.

At the Zoom meet­ing, Kathryn Davis, in­terim CEO at Visit Bath, out­lined the chal­lenges ahead for the Bath tourism scene, how­ever.

“Bath is the num­ber one des­ti­na­tion for wellbeing in the UK,” she said. “That USP was taken away from us by the pan­demic. We have the num­ber one spa des­ti­na­tion and the spa can­not be opened.

“There are half as many in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors as do­mes­tic ones, but the spend is about the same (for when they visit Bath).

“We have to try and get peo­ple to stay for days. A huge num­ber of peo­ple travel to Bath by train and less peo­ple are us­ing the park and ride too. This time is about sup­port­ing one another.”

Barry Gil­bert­son, City of Bath

World Her­itage Steer­ing Group chair­man, re-em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of get­ting peo­ple to stay for a num­ber of days in Bath.

“Fig­ures from 2018 re­veal that the stay­ing visi­tor pays £225 per head on av­er­age and the day visi­tor spends £38 per head on av­er­age,” he said at the meet­ing.

On the Fash­ion Mu­seum’s web­site, it states it is sched­uled to re­open at Easter in 2021 and, al­though the site won’t be open, the mu­seum’s team will de­liver in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tions and on­line re­sources across its dig­i­tal plat­forms.

Mr Cross­ley ex­plained why the mu­seum and art gallery would re­main closed.

“It would be very dif­fi­cult to get a one-way sys­tem at both places and en­sure the health and safety of staff and cus­tomers,” he said.

“We would have to have far less peo­ple in­side but more staff to over

Twenty per cent of

tourists visit the Baths so we have to work with that

COUN­CIL­LOR PAUL CROSS­LEY

see it all, so we are con­cen­trat­ing our ef­forts on Bath’s main at­trac­tions, such as the Ro­man Baths.

“Twenty per cent of tourists visit the Baths so we have to work with that. We don’t want to run up a debt with the mu­seum and art gallery.”

The meet­ing was at­tended by dozens of peo­ple and many of­fered ideas, ad­vice, and the sug­ges­tion of fu­ture meet-ups and brain­storm­ing over how to ad­dress this tourism is­sue.

Ar­tur Les­niak

The Fash­ion Mu­seum and Vic­to­ria Art Gallery in Bath will re­main closed un­til 2021

The Ro­man Baths, Stall Street, Bath

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