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Attracting 'Green' Tourists to Your Garden

Sarah Kneebone (BGCI UK)

As global awareness of ‘green’ issues, such as sustainability, grows, so do demands by the public for holidays and excursions that adhere to the principles of sustainable development and environmental tourism. Consider the following statistics:

  • 80% of UK holiday makers say that it is important that their holiday does not damage the environment (MORI 2000)
  • 80% of German tourists stated that quality environmental conditions were important in selecting a destination
  • In the USA, domestic and international travellers made 287 million recreation visits to National Park Service sites in 1998. Travel to these areas generated direct and indirect economic impact for local communities of $14.2 billion and supported almost 300,000 tourist related jobs during 1996.
    (Stevens 2002)

Botanic gardens are uniquely placed to offer the kind of experiences that more ‘environmentally aware’ visitors desire. The question is, how can gardens attract them? For ideas and inspiration take a look at the following table which identifies a range of success factors for the implementation of a sustainable tourism policy, based on research carried out on sustainable tourism in National Parks in the U.K. Download table in PDF

Finally - To keep in mind if your sustainability programme is to bear fruit

  • Be aware that development aimed at increasing numbers of visitors can adversely impact the surrounding environment, the very thing that you want people to come and see – particularly due to increased travel from and within the local area.
  • New facilities are sometimes abused by unthinking and inconsiderate visitors. The rule that ‘if you can’t maintain it, don’t build it’ is a cardinal principal of tourism development.
  • Economists say that tourism should not be allowed to grow to an extent that the destination area becomes totally dependant on it – this includes botanic gardens. Is your garden totally dependant on tourism or would it survive on donations and visitors from the local community? If not, what are the ways to try and counteract this?

(Adapted from ‘Learn about the Issues’ Georgia Nature-Based Tourism Association)

Tourists are an important element of visitors for botanic gardens. The potential for all botanic garden to become visitor destinations is huge. We welcome your views and thoughts on this and in particular how you see the implementation of sustainable tourism in your garden.


* Georgia Nature-Based Tourism Association
* Stevens, T. 2002. Sustainable tourism in National Parks and protected areas: An overview.Scottish Natural Heritage