The annual International Garden Tourism Awards, now in their fourth year, were presented in Metz, France to organisations and individuals who have played a fundamental role in the development and promotion of the garden experience as a tourist attraction.
The aim of the awards is to highlight the world’s most dynamic garden experiences and garden tourism’s vast potential. Recipients of this award came from as far afield as Mexico, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.
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.
Former RHS Director of Horticulture, Jim Gardiner, who was made Executive Vice President of the RHS in 2014, was recognised by an international panel for the pivotal role he played shaping RHS Garden Holiday Tours. Jim Gardiner said of his win: “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.”
Tourism is the world’s number one industry. And garden tourism is a significant part of it. 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.”