UK’s top tourist chief praises efforts to promote sector vital to Bath’s economy on visit to city

September 1, 2023

The boss of Britain’s national tourism agency has visited Bath to see for herself how the Roman Baths will have a significant impact on the city’s visitor economy over the next five years.  

VisitBritain/VisitEngland CEO Patricia Yates toured the attraction – voted the best in the UK last year by Tripadvisor reviewers – during a whistle-stop visit to the West of England and afterwards praised the level of activity in the region to attract domestic and overseas visitors.

With one-in-10 jobs in the West of England in tourism and hospitality, the health of the sector is vital for the region’s economy.

Pre-pandemic, the sector supported 45,000 jobs across the region and was worth £2.33bn. While Bath’s visitor economy is recovering faster than expected, it still has some ground to make up.

Ms Yates’ visit to the city was hosted by Visit West, the region’s destination marketing organisation behind the Visit Bath and Meet Bristol & Bath Convention Bureau brands, and came shortly after it was named as one of the first Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEP).

The region was chosen as one of 12 hotspots for the new national approach to driving up visitor numbers and creating jobs as the tourism industry continues to struggle from the impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis. 

Visit West is now able to access more support and training opportunities to find ways to attract new visitors to the region and bring in new investment to help supercharge the industry.

Visit West managing director Kathryn Davis said hosting Ms Yates gave it an opportunity to showcase the ambition for the West of England to be one of the UK’s most important regions for both leisure and business visitors.

“With hundreds of millions of pounds being invested in new venues, transport infrastructure, new experiences and place improvements in the coming years, it is imperative that key strategic partners know the ambition of the destinations and businesses to sustainably grow our visitor economy and experience,” she said. 

Pictured: VisitBritain/VisitEngland CEO Patricia Yates, centre, with Visit West managing director Kathryn Davis and Robert Campbell, head of heritage services in Bath

“The benefits of these investments ensure that local people have access to world-class facilities as well as the being the catalyst for visits from friends and family, those coming for day trips and holidays, as well as business event delegates.

“Our strong relationship with the team at VisitBritain and VisitEngland is critical to this future success, as they provide the gateway to help reach a global audience, amplifying our destination messages and supporting the development of routes to market with the travel trade – a significant part of our work which is often invisible to local audiences.”

Ms Yates, who also toured Bristol attractions Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Brabazon Hangers and Bristol Zoo Project, said: “It has been fantastic visiting Bristol and Bath with Visit West, who organised a cracking programme.

“It was extremely valuable to hear about the exciting and ambitious plans for growth and see first-hand the scale of development.

“It has also been wonderful to visit businesses, venues and attractions and experience the region’s outstanding tourism offer and welcome.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with Visit West, one of VisitEngland’s first Local Visitor Economy Partnerships, seeing the great activity it is delivering with businesses and stakeholders to attract domestic and overseas visitors, boosting the visitor economy.”

A number of new developments have come on stream at the Roman Baths in recent years as part of a  £5.5m renovation project.

A new Roman gym area opened in 2021, revealing excavations never before seen by the public, while last year a new World Heritage Centre and the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre were launched.

The Clore Learning Centre gives school children and local community groups a chance to learn about the fascinating history of Roman Britain where it actually happened.


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