The NorthCoast500 initiative is being toasted for another tourism boom – this time by staff at Inverewe Gardens.
The Wester Ross gardens’ guardians, the National Trust for Scotland, said yesterday the recent renovation of the estate’s grand home Inverewe House had also helped boost business since reopening after the winter break.
Visitor numbers of 55,000 in 2015 rose by 10,000 last year.
Since reopening on March 1, the attraction has welcomed 1,981 visitors – compared with 1,127 for the period last year.
A winning attraction has been the gardens’ events programme featuring a “Erythronium Festival” that showcased experts from the field of horticulture and art.
The week-long festival alone reaped ticket sales of £3,796 in 2016 which more than trebled the £1,230 income from the previous year’s event.
Property manager Kevin Frediani said: “There are two main things people have picked up on. One is the house renovation project which is being seen as a great success.
“That, as an investment, with the impact of the NC500 has been added to by us being given this new status of Garden of the Year.
“We’ve put together an inspirational events programme ranging from this week’s archaeology festival with experts from the UK and overseas, our Scottish Rhododendron Festival and a Scottish Adventure Film Festival planned for September. We’re reaching out to different audiences and it’s certainly seeming to work.”
He added: “We’ve invested heavily with the refurbishment of our magnificent Inverewe House, the family home of Mairi Sawyer and the creation of our Sawyer Art Gallery. It gives us the opportunity to present wonderful and complementary exhibitions throughout the season.”
There is optimism that Inverewe can ultimately reproduce its heyday figure of 1991 when it recorded almost 140,000 visitors.
The trust acquired the gardens in 1853.
There are full details of its events programme online at www.nts.org.uk/Inverewe