LOCAL BUZZ: Woodlands of Marburg directors David Ritchie and Michael Rowan.
LOCAL BUZZ: Woodlands of Marburg directors David Ritchie and Michael Rowan. Cordell Richardson

Why more people are visiting Ipswich than ever before

NEW figures show 1.6 million people visited the Ipswich region last year, an increase of 178,000 tourists on 2017.

Ipswich's 35 per cent growth in domestic overnight tourism was the fastest of any region in south-east Queensland.

Key cultural events that call Ipswich home, including CMC Rocks Qld - the largest international country and roots festival in the southern hemisphere - are bringing more people here than ever before.

Over 21,000 tickets for this festival were sold out in under two hours.

The tourism branch of Ipswich City Council has worked with multiple tourism operators over the past two years to increase customer service levels and be recognised as a Best of Queensland Experience.

This year 22 local businesses were recognised, including Woodlands of Marburg.

"This is fantastic news for Woodlands and also a great step forward for the ever expanding Ipswich region,” Woodlands director Michael Rowan said.

"We have been working diligently towards creating a quality product that is world class, and are very happy to have been recognised as a quality best of Queensland destination.

"Accommodation numbers have begun to increase and we look forward to providing our unique, customer focussed experience to more and more people in the near future.”

Ipswich's only heritage steam train operators Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway, which offers dinner trains that are booked out months in advance, also got the nod.

"Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway has had a proud tradition for 40 years offering passengers a unique slice of Queensland's past,” QPSR Chairman Robert Shearer said.

"We are immensely proud and humbled to have been recognised as a Best of Queensland experience.

"From our latest introduction, the Queensland Pioneer Dinner Train through to our classic Picnic Trains from Bundamba Racecourse to Swanbank, we are seeing ever increasing numbers and a revival of the love of steam locomotion, a trend we hope will continue for generations to come.”

Ipswich's new premium motocross destination Willowbank MX is continuing to be a huge success.

In its first year of operation, it is estimated to have brought over 30,000 tourists to the region.

Now in its second year of operation Willowbank MX has seen a huge spike in interstate visitor numbers.

"This quarter over 30 per cent of our visitors are from outside the SEQ region. After a three month marketing campaign with the help of Ipswich City Council, we have seen some great results for not only our business, but for the region,” Willowbank MX marketing manager Ineke McMahon said.

"We have recently been ranked as a Best of Queensland Experience, mostly based on our high reviews on social media, Google and other platforms.”

Visitors finding adventure in Ipswich

IPSWICH'S tourism surge has been attributed to premier events, sporting festivals and a vibrant food scene, boosting the numbers along with a targeted marketing "Humans Wanted” campaign to boost awareness of what the region has to offer.

The "Humans Wanted” campaign saw Ipswich City Council collaborating with Google to add over 2400kms of Ipswich's nature, adventure and urban trails to Google Maps the #1 website in Australia, with the completion of the Google Trekker project showcasing the best of Ipswich's tourism destinations.

"Tourism in Ipswich is also surging ahead boosted by new visitors seeking adventure, nature-based activities and events in the region,” CEO David Farmer said.

"We have the highest mountain peak in the greater Brisbane region, Flinders Peak, and also the most extensive mountain biking trail network on mainland Australia at Hidden Vale Adventure Park.”

Mr Farmer said these and other hiking and biking infrastructure across the region, coupled with Ipswich's heritage story, emerging coffee, bar and restaurant scene, were great drawcards for day trippers from south-east Queensland.

"Upgraded sporting infrastructure allowed us to secure national sporting carnivals such as the 2019 National BMX Championships,” he said.

Tourism Research Australia data shows visitation to Ipswich had increased in 2018 compared to 2017.

Domestic overnight stays were up 34.6 per cent, while day trips were up 5.9 per cent and international visitors increased 45.1 per cent.