The tourism group which aims to promote Scotland's horticultural offering and help achieve a 10 per cent uplift in visits to Scotland's gardens by 2020 and is match-funded with £30,000 from Visit Scotland, is creating a website, www.discoverscottishgardens.org, where visitors will be able to search for gardens, nurseries and related businesses across Scotland, as well as find out about events taking place.
Catherine Erskine of Cambo Estate in Fife, and chair of Discover Scottish Gardens, said: "Discover Scottish Gardens is collecting together a treasure trove of information for garden enthusiasts and 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."
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.
Research from VisitScotland, which has provided £30,000 to launch of Discover Scottish Gardens from its Growth Fund, shows that every year nearly 700,000 British holidaymakers visit a Scottish garden, with 35,000 of these indicating that a garden visit was the main reason for their holiday. This market is worth over £200 million to Scotland in terms of tourism spend.
Discover Scottish Gardens aims to achieve three ambitions:
- To increase visitor numbers by around 10 per cent 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.
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’.