A new network of horticultural attractions in Scotland will start a £60,000 campaign later this year to promote garden tourism across the country.
VisitScotland has provided £30,000 for the campaign, matching the amount raised by the network members, who pay membership fees.
Members include gardens, nurseries and other related businesses. The founders include Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, National Trust for Scotland, Brightwater Holidays, Scotland's Gardens, Attadale Gardens and Cambo Estate.
The move follows a call last month by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) for the next Government to invest in tourism, including garden attractions, citing research by VisitBritain showing that parks and gardens are the most visited British attractions by foreign visitors - more popular than museums and art galleries (HW, 20 March).
ALVA called for more money for VisitBritain and VisitEngland to promote the country as a tourist destination and for VAT to be reduced on attractions and accommodation.
VisitScotland's funding came from its Growth Fund, which provides various groups with awards of between £5,000 and £40,000 to cover 50 per cent of marketing costs.
The network of Scottish attractions is planning an official launch at Gardening Scotland in May and is working with marketing agency The Union to develop a new brand, logo, website and four seasonal garden festivals.
Paddy Scott, chief executive of Scotland's Gardens, one of the founding organisations, said the website will provide a portal giving information on a range of horticultural attractions across Scotland.
"It will make it easier for people to find information and get an idea of the attractions they can visit, which will help increase footfall." Other marketing plans, including four festivals to take place annually, are now being developed, he added.
"This is the first time this many people have come together," he said, pointing out that he is not aware of similar initiatives in England and Wales. He said the network has followed the example set in other countries and parts of England such as Cornwall and Cheshire where similar marketing networks have been formed.
Research by VisitScotland has shown that 700,000 British holidaymakers visit a Scottish garden each year and 35,000 of these say a garden visit was the main reason for their holiday. The garden market is worth more than £200m a year to Scotland in terms of tourism, according to the organisation.
700,000 - Research by VisitScotland has shown that 700,000 British holidaymakers visit a Scottish garden each year.