Tourism figures in the heritage city continue on an upward swing with international visitors coming into the region up 41.9 per cent, day trippers up 22.1 per cent and domestic overnight stays up 14.7 per cent.
The tourism and hospitality industry employs more than 15,392 people in the Ipswich region and is an important growth sector.
Recent growth comes off the back of a previous 12 quarters of above average visitor growth which has led to Ipswich, a city with no beaches, becoming one of the fastest growing regions in South East Queensland.
Ipswich cafes and restaurants have been luring people to the heritage city with eating out and dining showing the fastest growth of top activities reported by visitors to the region.
There was a 27 per cent increase in people listing foodie reasons for their visit to Ipswich.
Tourism Research Australia data shows in the year ending June 2019 there were a total of 1.89 million visitors to the region, placing Ipswich as one of the fastest growing local government areas in SEQ behind only Logan for total visitors – a 20 per cent increase year on year.
The annual year on year growth of total visitors in SEQ Local Government areas for the year ending June 2019.
Ipswich led the growth in international visitors, the 41.9 per cent increase year on year in that sector the fastest annual growth of any SEQ local government area for the period.
Major events that call Ipswich home, including Winternationals, Ipswich Show, Ipswich Cup, The Gathering and the Queensland Knife Art Show all drew visitors to the region during the reporting period from April to June.
The Ipswich Cup recorded some 20,000 visitors, while the Gathering saw nearly 5000 visitors with half coming from outside the region and Winternationals had about 30,000 visitors.
Harry Rowsell from Willowbank Raceway said this year attendance figures for the track’s largest event the Winternationals were solid.
“It’s positive to see continued support for the event which brings visitors into the region,” he said.
Ipswich Tourism Operators Network award winning restaurants like Spicers Hidden Vale which recently won a chef hat at the Good Food Guide Awards 2020 and the Prince Alfred (PA) Hotel which won a QLD Hotel Award in 2018 for Best Casual Dining are driving tourists to the region.
The PA Hotel are finalists for four awards in the 2019 QLD Hotel Awards including best themed bar and best traditional bar.
PA Hotel manager Peter Coultas said the hotel was ahead of the curve with quality food and drink offerings which was bringing customers in from Ipswich and surrounds.
“We find people are after a great experience when dining out and our fresh menu, quality and service standards really set the bar high,” he said.
Recently 25 Ipswich tourism operators were awarded TripAdvisor certificates of Excellence with six operators being recognised in the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame for more than five years of outstanding service excellence.
These standouts were The Workshops Rail Museum which has won the accolade eight years in a row, Spicers Hidden Vale which has won it seven years in a row, Queen’s Park, Indian Mehfil and this year we saw two more new businesses Quest Ipswich and Pterodactyl Helicopters make this prestigious group.
New tourism products like The Llama Farm, Spicers Koala Safari and Summer Land Camels’ new sunrise camel trek and breakfast tour are also drawing visitors to the region.
Llama Farmer Shane Hancock said his recent school holiday program was very popular as people turned out to see the new farm which boasts Queensland’s largest herd of Llamas.
A new partnership between Pterodactyl Helicopters and The Soul Nook Collective has seen an increase in people booking luxury heli-picnics in Ipswich to pop the question.
Seraphim Escape, which has been credited as the scariest escape room challenge in Queensland recently opened a new room as a sequel to the Executioner’s Toolshed.
And Brookwater Golf and Country Club which successfully hosted its inaugural Pro-Am was recently voted by readers of Inside Golf as having the best opening hole in Australia.
To keep up with demand for new experiences the Ipswich Visitor Information Centre has introduced new consumer experiences such as the Animal Encounters at Queens Park and the Japanese Tea Ceremony at Nerima Gardens.
Ipswich City Council CEO David Farmer said new experiences and major events were still pushing great growth for tourism in the region with Winternationals, Ipswich Cup and Day Out with Thomas all receiving good visitation in the period.
“It’s great to see the sustained growth and the opportunities this provides for the city,” he said.
“Like-minded business operators looking to grow their business are encouraged to join the Ipswich Tourism Operators Network, a sizeable group made up of over 140 growing businesses”.