The annual awards, now in their fourth year, were presented to organisations and individuals who have played a fundamental role in the development and promotion of the garden experience as a tourist attraction.
The Gardens and Tourism Person of the Year Award is presented to individuals who have an international background in horticulture and in-depth knowledge and experience of gardens which are open to the public.
Gardiner, the former RHS director of horticulture who moved into his current role this year, was recognised by an international panel for the pivotal role he played shaping RHS Garden Holiday Tours.
He said: "It is humbling and a true honour to be recognised in this way and to be a part of the drive to highlight the important role garden tourism has in the wider tourism industry.
"Through RHS holidays more people have been able to explore some of the world’s most incredible gardens, in countries such as China, South Africa, America and of course Britain which has many wonderful gardens, with people who share my lifelong passion for gardens and horticulture. To be rewarded for the small part I have played in this revolution is brilliant."
The aim of the awards is to highlight the world’s most dynamic garden experiences and garden tourism’s vast potential. Recipients came from as far afield as Mexico, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.
The National Garden Scheme won promotion of the year and the Singapore Garden Festival, which this year awarded Best in Show to British duo Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam of Wilson McWilliam Studio for their Sacred Grove show garden, took Achievement of the Year.
Tourism is the world’s number one industry and garden tourism plays a significant part. Dr Richard Benfield, author of Garden Tourism, estimates that annually there are 120 million garden tourists worldwide.
"If garden events and tours were included, the number would reach more than 300 million," said Alexander Reford, director of Jardins de Métis in Québec, Canada and chair of the Canadian Garden Council. "It is a great pleasure to celebrate the contributions that gardens make to the international tourism offering for travellers from around the world."
Full list of winners:
Garden of the Year - Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Festival of the Year - International Garden Festival, Chaumont-sur-Loire, France
Event of the Year - Keukenhof, Lisse, The Netherlands
Exhibition of the Year - Qingdao International Horticultural Exposition, Qingdao, China
Initiative of the Year - Vallarta Botanical Gardens, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Promotion of the Year - National Garden Scheme, UK
Website of the Year - GardenDrum.com, Australia
Achievement of the Year - Singapore Garden Festival, Singapore
Person of the Year - Jim Gardiner, executive VP Royal Horticultural Society, UK