Promotion the key to Ipswich tourism boom
PROMOTE it and they will come.
That is the message coming through loud and clear from Tourism Research Australia's national visitor survey for the 12 months to September of 2016, which has seen a 23% increase in domestic overnight visitors to Ipswich.
That translated to an extra 103,000 domestic overnight visitors and a $75 million boost to the local economy.
Ipswich's increase is outstripping more fancied tourist hotspots. For the same period Brisbane experienced a 5% increase in overnight visitors and Gold Coast 4%.
Mayor Paul Pisasale said the council had realised it needed to up the ante in promoting the city's drawcards "by taking a collaborative approach with tourism operators" to promote Ipswich and its many attractions to a wider audience through the Ipswich Destination Marketing, Management and Events Plan.
This was evident when the council paid for a travel writer from a Sydney-based Sunday newspaper to visit a wide cross-section of tourist attractions and operators in Ipswich.
The result was a full page promoting what the city has to offer. Instead of forking out $40,000 for a full page add, the $2000 paid to host the journalist proved to be an investment that paid off.
Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights marketing manager Ruth Day said the tourism figures did show there was an increase in people wanting to visit Ipswich as a destination and that had a snowballing effect which assisted other tourism operators and attractions locally.
Ms Day said the council had lifted its promotion of tourist attractions in recent times to complement what the businesses, including hers, were already doing.
"Our figures have increased a lot over the last 12 months to three years," she said.
"We have done a lot of promotional work and probably 70% of our clients come from outside of the Ipswich region.
"We have 10 to 15% of those who stay overnight in the region.
"They then go to see things like the parks, the wineries and the eateries because we tell them to visit the various locations.
"To see this increase of people coming into the region is a positive indication that the economy is stronger and that Ipswich is a destination for a short stay.
"It shows that there are things to see and do in the region."
Cr Pisasale said the council had increased its investment in local tourism by 80%, boosting the membership of the Ipswich Tourism Operators Network and the number of people descending on Ipswich to visit a variety of attractions.
"Every time I go to our art gallery it is full of Brisbane people," he said.
"The Orion Lagoon continues to be a drawcard and we've just had crowds visit the Thomas the Tank Engine exhibition at the Workshops Rail Museum.
"We are the home of the CMC Rocks music festival. We have Ivory's Rock and all the conventions they are running there. The Supercars and drag races at the Ipswich Motorsport Precinct bring in thousands of people.
"Those fantastic tourism numbers injected $75 million into our city and that translates into jobs."
The targeted promotion of the city has seen the Discover Ipswich website revamped, leading to a 2289% increase in website visits.
The Ipswich Civic Centre saw a boost in visitors last year from 31,990 in 2015 to 38,225.
Studio 188 almost doubled its visitors from 2086 to 3728.
There were 232,460 visitors to Queens Park Nature Centre while 87,685 people visited the Ipswich Art Gallery despite it being closed for an extended period for the replacement of air-conditioning units.