To enhance the perception of Ipswich, getting the town regarded and recognised at a national level as a centre for culture, leisure, the arts and entertainment is key. So tourism has a huge role to play in raising the town’s profile nationally and internationally, conveniently benefiting businesses operating in other key sectors.
The local community also benefits from the growth of tourism, as we all gain access to facilities and attractions that are only viable because of the influx of visitors. Spending on the conservation of Ipswich’s historic buildings is also encouraged by the generation of additional income.
Ipswich enjoys a rich array of cultural assets. These bring in significant visitor numbers (2 million/year from within the town, its wider catchment and regionally) and support a flourishing cultural industry and economy.
The impact of tourism in Ipswich increases year on year. As visitor numbers keep rising, so does tourism spend – now up to £191m. With Rodin’s Kiss sparking record visitor numbers for Christchurch Mansion, and with Ed Sheeran’s Made in Suffolk exhibition to come, the trend is set to continue.
For the future, simple initiatives such as publishing visitor guides at local railway stations can help make Ipswich an even stronger force regionally, delivering the development of creative and cultural businesses, greater visitor numbers, as well as increasing the town centre’s leisure and recreational use.
Ipswich Borough Council, Visit Ipswich (the new name for the town’s Destination Marketing Organisation) and Ipswich Central will take the lead on the marketing to be done to further increase visits to Ipswich, enhance the overall visitor experience, as well as encourage repeat visits and word-of-mouth recommendations.
The arts are not the pretty but irrelevant bits around the border of reality. They are highways into the centre of a reality which cannot be glimpsed, let alone grasped, any other way.