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Sector already worth £200m

Gardens scheme aims for visitor boost

Dolphin PondBusinesses and other organisations have joined forces to launch Discover Scottish Gardens to help achieve a 10% uplift in visits by 2020 for a sector already worth £200 million to the tourism economy.

A new website features gardens, nurseries and related businesses across Scotland, together with details about events taking place.  It aims to inspire visitors to discover new gardens and find out more about the country’s diverse climate and the wealth of plant collections.

Research from VisitScotland, which has provided £30,000 from its Growth Fund to launch the programme, shows that nearly 700,000 British holidaymakers visit a Scottish garden each year, with 35,000 of these indicating that a garden visit was the main reason for their holiday.   The market is worth over £200 million to Scotland in terms of tourism spend.

Catherine Erskine of Cambo Estate in Fife, and chairman of Discover Scottish Gardens, said it was gathering “a treasure trove of information” for garden enthusiasts that will deliver the ability to plan a garden-focused trip around the key seasons.

“This will enable visitors from overseas or closer to home to enjoy gardens to the full whenever they plan a day trip or holiday,” she said.

As well as the website, due to launch in the coming weeks, Discover Scottish Gardens will launch an international marketing push to promote Scotland’s gardens within seasonal themes, allowing visitors to plan their trips around milestone events that happen at key times of the gardening year – such as snowdrop festivals in the winter, or the first bluebell displays in the spring.

The marketing push will include 150,000 leaflets, made available for tourists at visitor information centres and the main gateways into Scotland.

The initiative has three key ambitions:

·         To increase visitor numbers by around 10% by 2020;

·         To ensure that members reap the financial benefits of collectively marketing Scotland’s gardens, while keeping growth sustainable;

·         To drive tourism in the garden / natural sector by providing visitors with easy access to events and seasonal activities.

Already, the group has attracted 130 members, including gardens, plant nurseries, accommodation providers and tour operators, with more expected to come on board post-launch.

Gardens within the estates of the National Trust for Scotland, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and the Royal Horticultural Society are included alongside independent garden members such as Attadale Gardens in the Highlands, Scone Palace in Perth, Cambo Estate in Fife, Kailzie Gardens in the Scottish Borders and the 17 ‘Glorious Gardens of Argyll and Bute’.

Ms Erskine said: “Scotland is lucky to have such a diverse garden offering, and one which many visitors already enjoy all year round.  By collaborating, we aim to use our collective might to grow the sector, having a positive knock-on effect on businesses and communities all over Scotland.”

Picture: Dolphin Pond, Benmore Botanic Garden

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