Kirstenbosch is world’s Garden of the Year

20 March 2015

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was recently announced as winner of the garden of the year award at the 2015 International Garden Tourism Awards, the South African Botanical Institute (Sanbi) announced on Wednesday.

The award was presented by the International Garden Tourism Network (IGTN) in Toronto, Canada.

The Garden Tourism Awards are presented to organisations and individuals “who have distinguished themselves in the development and promotion of the garden experience as a tourism attraction,” IGTN said in a statement on Tuesday.

In consultation with a global jury network, nine awards were announced by the IGTN, and garden tourism related events from Japan, UK, Thailand, Brussels, British Columbia, Dubai, Netherlands, USA as well as South Africa were honoured.

“Scooping the garden of the year award has once more underlined the important role that Kirstenbosch plays in contributing to the country’s tourism figures and, having hit the one million visitors in a year in 2014, this award is a further boost for potential visitors,” Sanbi said on its website.

‘Flagship garden’

Kirstenbosch is high on the list of “must visit” attractions for both local and international tourists.

“We strive to offer visitors a unique experience at Kirstenbosch,” curator Philip le Roux said. “As the flagship garden of Sanbi we are proud to be recognised at these prestigious awards. Our garden offers many unusual experiences and showcases the diverse Cape Floral kingdom in a very accessible way.

“The addition of the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway [known as “the Boomslang”] has added to the attractions of the garden. More recently, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom acknowledged that Kirstenbosch is one of the country’s most important tourist attractions.

“We are also very proud to announce that we exceeded 1-million visitors in one year for the first time in the garden’s history in 2014. This represented an increase of 27% on the previous year.”

‘Garden tourists’

With tourism the world’s fourth-largest industry and garden tourism a significant part of it, the awards were inaugurated in 2011. Garden tourism awards are presented annually to organisations and individuals who have distinguished themselves in the development and promotion of the garden experience as a tourism attraction.

“It is estimated that there are 250-million ‘garden tourists’ worldwide and significantly more if garden festivals, events and garden shows were included,” said Dr Richard Benfield, chair of the International Garden Tourism Network. “These awards highlight the world’s most dynamic garden experiences and garden tourism’s limitless potential.”

International Garden Tourism award winners

  • Garden of the Year: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, South Africa
  • Garden Festival of the Year: Hokkaido Garden Show Daisetsu and Related Garden Movement of Hokkaido, Japan
  • Garden Event of the Year: RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, United Kingdom
  • Flower Festival of the Year: Chiang Mai Flower Festival, Thailand
  • Flower Event of the Year: Tapis de Fleur, Visit Brussels, Belgium
  • Destination of the Year: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • New Garden Experience of the Year – The Moselle Award: Dubai Miracle Garden, United Arab Emirates
  • Media of the Year: GardenTours.com, The Netherlands
  • Person of the Year: Paul Redman Executive Director, Longwood Gardens, USA

SAinfo reporter