Up, up and away to Cairns forum
GRAEME Day has been floating tourists over Ipswich for 10 years so you could say he has a good overview of tourism needs in this region.
Mr Day has been selected to attend the landmark Destination Q tourism forum in Cairns today and tomorrow.
The owner of balloon flights company Floating Images said he was the only tourism operator from the Ipswich and Somerset regions to be selected.
He's looking forward to the forum the State Government says is a key initiative in its first 100 days of government.
"It's a great opportunity to clear the air and discuss what needs to be discussed," Mr Day said.
"Given the last 20 years of Labor, I think it's a great opportunity to have tourism recognised as one of the four pillars of the economy.
"It affects not only tourism businesses, but everyone indirectly. In Ipswich, people don't realise how important tourism is.
"I think there are some changes that need to be done with Tourism Queensland and our regional tourism organisations. We need a tourism industry Ombudsman because if operators have a problem, who do they turn to?"
He said tourism's main need around Ipswich was destination marketing; promoting the region as a tourism destination.
"A lot of people don't know what's in Ipswich; what the tourism products are," he said.
"We market our balloon business for a 400km radius."
"We've got wineries out here, we've got tourism product out here, Ipswich and the Somerset and Scenic Rim are still growing and learning. It comes back to marketing and education of the public and the tourism operators."
He had been based in Ipswich more than 10 years and been ballooning for more than 20 years on three continents.
"It's a small family business run by my wife and I. We've flown over 8000 people," he said.
"There is a big future for ballooning and tourism in Ipswich.
"Now the Ipswich Motorway is finished it's fantastic. It only takes 30 minutes from Brisbane to get out and discover Ipswich.
"If you compare Brisbane and Ipswich to Melbourne and the Yarra Valley, the Yarra Valley takes 60 minutes-plus."