Heritage tourism is a vital part of the UK economy. In 2015, domestic and international tourists made 192 million trips to visit the UK's cultural, historic and natural assets. They spent £17.5 billion while doing so. ‘Heritage tourism' encompasses heritage attractions, such as castles, galleries and museums as well as attractions in the natural environment such as urban parks, beaches, country parks, and nature reserves.
For example, The UK recorded its biggest-ever month for tourist visits after the referendum-related slump in the pound (when sterling was at its lowest level against the dollar for 30 years) lured 3.8 million people to British shores in July 2016, spending £2.5 billion.
Tourism chiefs at Ipswich Borough Council and the Ipswich Destination Marketing Organisation welcome the October 2016 statistics, which showed a year-on-year increase of more than 2% as proof that the town continues to expand the attractions which it offers visitors.
There are always going to be a few nay-sayers who ask ‘Why would anybody want to come to Ipswich?'. Visitors are impressed by the situation of the town with its historic Wet Dock, river foreshores, countryside and access to well-maintained parks and to the nearby sea coast. A bustling shopping centre contradicts the opinion (often held by those in the hinterland who avoid the town and go to Bury or Norwich instead) that Ipswich is just full of charity shops and phone shops. Look a little further and quality independent shops, department stores, upmarket chain outlets and a busy open market four times a week make it an excellent shopping destination. Oh, and contrary to commonly-held opinion, the Borough car-parks are affordable and we still have valuable Park & Ride services from Copdock Mill and Martlesham Heath.
Ipswich is there to be appreciated, for businesses to thrive, for people of all ages to enjoy. Its heritage is comparable to other big towns and cities nationally - after all, the Anglo-Saxons formed their first town here - and Ipswich was the crucible of the English language: becoming a major cultural and artistic force. Perhaps what the town has lacked is a sense of confidence in itself and its potential. Public bodies, voluntary groups and business people only have to look at the economic benefits conferred by visitors to Ipswich. So let's welcome the visitors, celebrate our culture, historic buildings and street layout, enjoy our parks and facilities (the envy of many other towns), support our traders and shop proprietors and we'll be fine.
The impact of heritage tourism for the UK economy. Oxford Economics, August 2016
Ipswich Society Newsletter supplement: A tale of three cities, April 2015.
Ipswich Society Newsletter: Parking prices in Ipswich, January 2016.