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Big rise in visitor numbers to English Gardens

Photo: Rose Garden, Hever Castle & Gardens © Hever Castle & Gardens Ltd.

There has always been great public interest in gardens and in gardening – in Germany alone there are over 50 monthly magazines and periodicals dedicated to gardens and gardening themes. Google “Gartenreisen” or garden tours in German and you will get over 20 pages of results. One of the longest running and most popular radio programmes in Europe is BBC Radio 4’s ‘Gardener’s Question Time’ – broadcasting every week since 1947.

Gardens and zoos saw the most significant growth in visitor numbers to English attractions in 2016, according to VisitEngland's recently published Annual Attractions Survey. The survey, based on data sent by 1,545 English attractions, found that gardens and zoos both saw the biggest increase in visitors in 2016 at 8%. England has more than 3,600 historic parks and gardens – historic houses and castles reported a 7% increase in visitor numbers and country parks a 4% increase.

VisitEngland chief executive Sally Balcombe stated: "It’s great to see people enjoyed 2016’s 'Year of the English Garden’. Attractions are a much loved and valuable part of the tourism landscape, adding colour and variety to the visitor experience and encouraging people to get out and explore, driving the value of tourism across the regions."

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew remained the third most visited paid-for attraction in England in 2016 with 1.8 million visitors, up from 1,622,821 in 2015, following The Tower of London with 2.7 million visitors and Chester Zoo with nearly 1.9 million visitors. RHS Garden Wisley came in at number 11 on the paid-for list, with 1.1 million visitors, one rank up from 2015 when it attracted 1.08 million. The Eden Project was at number 15 with just over a million visitors and up from 960,029 people in 2015. Hampton Court Palace moved up to number 20 on the paid-for list with 903,270 visitors.

Visits to England’s attractions rose by 2% in 2016, with attractions reporting revenues up by 7%. The tourism economy is worth £106 billion annually to England.

RDA member and RDA Group Travel Expo exhibitor, Visit Kent, recently launched an ambitious B2C project to promote ‘Gardens & Gourmet’ experiences not only in Kent but also in Cheshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and the Peak District to ensure that England remains competitive in the rapidly growing international gardens and gourmet tourism markets – markets that are natural sources of business for coach and group travel operators.

Further information: and and


Annette Heinemann
Phone: +49 2244 90 33 33
Facsimile: +49 2244 87 74 22

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