How popular nature centre is bringing in the dollars

THE Ipswich Nature Centre is worth almost $3 million a year to the Ipswich economy, with an increase in visitors last year on the year before, even after it was shut down for almost two months.

More than 140,000 people visited the Queens Park attraction last year, up from the 138,182 people who passed through the gates in 2018.

The Ipswich City Council asset was forced to close for two months last year from the start of February due to an influx of flying foxes to the park.

A three-month study by Earth Check and Lucid Economics commission by the council found it was worth $2.8 million to the local economy.

Close to 1500 people were surveyed about their spending habits when visiting the centre, with 99 per cent of those recommending a visit.

About 55 per cent of visitors last year were local and the rest were from outside the city.

The survey found locals spent $6.47 per person within the Queens Park precinct while visitors spent about $45.50 per person on food and beverage and/or shopping in Ipswich.

The council’s general manager of infrastructure and environment Charlie Dill said the council will use the study findings to develop a long-term strategy and plan for the site.

It will be up to the new council team once they are elected to review the centre before the council can seek funding assistance for future development.

A council spokesman said there is nothing specific “on the drawing board” for new families or upgrades at this stage.

Most respondents to the survey wanted to see the entry to the park kept free of charge, as well as upgrades to the animal enclosures as some are small, more interactive activities for the kids, a larger variety of animals with child-friendly signage, a wet area and update equipment for kids and more awareness of the centre.

The survey found just under half of visitors came to the centre with children and 75 per cent would likely pay for additional experiences like wine and wildlife evenings, overnight camps, night tours, educational activities for kids while in the city.

The centre houses 12 species of native mammals, seven species of native reptile, 24 species of native birds and a range of barn animals.

The centre is home to 184 individual animals all up.

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