Here’s a hastily posed question as I prepare my property for
this weekend’s onslaught of Garden Walk visitors. Can garden tourism provide a
previously unexamined economic boost to cities (like mine) not ordinarily known
as tourism destinations?
According to a book
fellow Buffalo blogger Jim Charlier has referenced, the 40 million people who
visit gardens every year is a larger number than those who visit Disney World
and Disney Land, combined. The
book, Garden Tourism, by Richard Benfield, is apparently one of the few—if not
the only—studies of the subject.
It reminds me of research I did about a decade ago about
cultural tourism as an alternative to the usual entertainment lures local politicians
were liking then (casinos and maybe a new stadium). And it does seem as though
visitors to historic and cultural attractions stay longer and leave more money
behind than anyone else. I wonder if the same might be true of gardening,
though of course, it would have its seasonal ups and downs in most places.
Still, in many areas, especially where traditional industry has declined,
creative economic boosts need to be explored; for a while, tourism has been one
Have any of you explored this option in your own
communities, especially where there are major horticultural attractions, or
even the possibility of agritourism, which is already big in Europe? It’s a possibility on the
minds of a few gardeners around here. But I am sure we can’t be the only ones.