Bristol Aquarium is to develop a more interactive and personalised visitor experience to build on the rise in visitor numbers this year.

Since opening in 2009 the Harbourside aquarium has welcomed hundreds of thousands of people through its doors.

This year has seen a significant rise in visitor figures and bosses are planning a series of new initiatives to continue that growth in the new year.

Bristol Aquarium Park Director David Waines said: ““Our aim is to continually develop and improve the visitor experience and to create a world-class aquarium in the heart of Bristol.

“In response to feedback we have received from visitors we will be building on the success of our talks and feeding programmes to offer the public an even more interactive and personalised visit in 2012.

“This year we also welcomed more than 11,000 schoolchildren to the aquarium, more than double the previous year.

“We are looking to significantly increase those numbers again next year and will be working closely with local schools and educational groups to ensure we deliver a first class visit for youngsters of all ages,” he added.

In addition to providing a more interactive experience for visitors, the aquarium has also been reviewing the use of IMAX in its cinema.

“We are currently compiling our strategy for the next three years and have been looking at the IMAX operation and assessing its contribution to our business,” said David.

“As the IMAX brand is increasingly moving away from documentaries and into mainstream Hollywood movies we no longer believe it fits in to our ambitious plans and we have therefore taken the decision to stop screening IMAX films.

“Once again we would like to thank everybody for their support in 2011 and to underline our 100% commitment to the city of Bristol in the years ahead,” added David.

Built over two floors with a series of separate themed habitats and more than 50 amazing displays, Bristol Aquarium also features two underwater walkthrough tunnels, open-top tanks and a Learning Lab to explore.

The centrepiece of the aquarium is the giant Coral Seas display where visitors can enjoy the closest of undersea encounters with tropical sharks and rays in an underwater walk-through tunnel, via a two-metre concave bubble display and a massive floor-to-ceiling acrylic viewing window.