Bristol Aquarium has enjoyed a massive boost to visitor numbers over the summer – recording an increase of nearly 50% on the previous year.

Delighted bosses believe the increase is down to a series of factors including a higher profile in the city, improved awareness among the public and word of mouth recommendations.

The increase over the summer holidays represents tens of thousands of extra visitors and comes against a national backdrop of low growth and even a reported decline in visits to some attractions.

Bristol Aquarium’s David Waines said: “Bristol is a great city and we’re fortunate to have such a wide choice of great attractions on our doorstep.

“We’re obviously delighted that people decided to come and visit the aquarium over the summer period in such large numbers and hopefully it will contribute to the ongoing growth and development of the Harbourside area in general.

“The entire team here at the aquarium has been working incredibly hard and we’re constantly looking at ways to further improve the overall experience and add value to the visit.

“We’re already looking at new displays, features and events for the autumn and winter months as well as exciting new developments for 2012.

“Our aim is to build on the success of the summer and use the visitor feedback we have received – both positive and negative – to continually develop what we have to offer.

A key element of the aquarium’s programme of improvement has been to increase the level of interaction between staff and visitors with additional talks, feeding demonstrations, events and activities taking place on a daily basis.

“Everyone here is extremely proud of the aquarium and we want to share that enthusiasm and pride with our visitors.

“Time and again our surveys have shown that individual interaction with staff and aquarists is extremely important to the public and we intend to keep on developing this in the coming weeks and months,” he added.

Next month the aquarium is hosting a special ‘Sea Monsters’ event to coincide with the October Half Term Holidays.