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Ipswich sees boom in tourism - with visitor numbers up 2.5%

Ipswich market is a popular and bustling area of Suffolk's county town. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich market is a popular and bustling area of Suffolk's county town. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich is enjoying a boom in tourism with more than 3.5 million people taking trips to Suffolk's county town last year alone.

Huge crowds flock to the Suffolk Show at Trinity Park in Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWNHuge crowds flock to the Suffolk Show at Trinity Park in Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A new study on the economic impact on tourism in the town has revealed a total of 3,449,000 people came to visit Ipswich in 2016 - with 340,000 of them staying overnight in one of the town’s hotels.

Ipswich has seen a 2.5% surge in tourism - with visitor numbers up from 3,034,000 in 2015 to 3,110,000 this year.

It is estimated a whopping £182 million has been pumped into the town’s shops, restaurants, bars cafes and hotels as a result.

The ‘indirect spend’ is estimated to nudge a quarter of a billion pounds.

The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich is one of the town's most popular venues. Picture: Mike KwasniakThe New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich is one of the town's most popular venues. Picture: Mike Kwasniak

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, welcomed the latest statistics. “As county town, Ipswich enjoys many advantages, with more and more people using us a base to explore the historic town and surrounding countryside.

“We have a thriving entertainment and leisure scene and also a bustling town centre, beautiful parks, three museums and a stunning Waterfront and the facts speak for themselves.

“There is clearly a demand for more holiday accommodation and we have just approved plans for a new hotel close to the railway station.”

The new figures were revealed in the latest Economic Impact of Tourism report produced by Destination Research.

Ipswich Marina packed with a variety sailing boats. Picture: GREGG BROWNIpswich Marina packed with a variety sailing boats. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich’s MP Sandy Martin said the boom in tourism has a welcome effect on business in general in the town.

He said: “Ipswich will never be able to base its economy on tourism but it is a welcome boost to our town.

“Not only does it mean we will be getting more economic support from people visiting the town but also people will see how nice our town is and will more likely want to work here or start a business.

“If people are thinking of starting a business they want somewhere they will have space to start that is affordable but also somewhere that feels attractive.

Pedestrians walk along the waters edge at Ipswich Waterfront. Picture: GREGG BROWNPedestrians walk along the waters edge at Ipswich Waterfront. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“The fact Ipswich now feels more attractive will make it more likely for businesses to come here.

“We have also now got several more hotels here.

“Ipswich is a very good base for people visiting Suffolk.

“If people want to spend a longer holiday here they can stay in Ipswich and visit the rest of the county as well.”

Ipswich market place is in the centre of the town close to the Town Hall and Corn Exchange. Picture: GREGG BROWNIpswich market place is in the centre of the town close to the Town Hall and Corn Exchange. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Not only are more people visiting Ipswich - they are also spending longer in the town when they do.

The study shows the average length of stay for tourists has increased from 3.29 days in 2015 to 3.38 days in 2016 - a increase of 2.6%.

There has also been a 2.3% rise in people staying overnight in the town’s hotels from 1,120,000 nights in 2015 to 1,146,000 last year.

Of those who visit, 61% do so as a holiday, 19% for business purposes and 17% to visit family or friends.

The most popular months to visit Ipswich are July and August.

Tourism supports 4,800 jobs in the town - almost 3,600 of them full-time - making up 7.6% of the county town’s workforce.

There are 15 hotels within Ipswich and a further eight on the outskirts of the town offering more than 1,300 rooms.

Nearly 200 more rooms will be added when the new Travelodge and EasyHotel developments are completed.

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