Whisky tourism attracts record 1.6million distillery visitors
Scotland’s whisky distilleries hosted more visits than ever last year putting the industry at the forefront of attractions for domestic and international tourists.
New research by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) found distillery visits increased by 7 per cent to 1.6 million between 2014 and last year. Overall the number of tourists visiting distilleries rose by more than 20 per cent in the last five years.
According to the SWA Scotch Whisky distilleries now rank among some of the most popular UK visitor attractions, catering for as many tourists as Edinburgh Castle and London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral each year.
SWA researcher found distillery tourists spend on average around £25 per head per visit. The total spend at distillery visitor centres in 2015 was £50 million, almost double the £27m spent in 2010.
Around half of Scotland’s 118 whisky distilleries are now open to the public and many companies have invested significantly in attracting tourists, especially in the wake of the the success of whisky festivals such as Islay and Speyside which have helped to attract new visitors to the country.
A survey of where most tourists come from found the largest proportion of came from Scotland and other parts of the UK while visitors from Germany, the USA and France reflect some of the largest overseas markets for Scotch around the world.
“Scotch Whisky distilleries offer high-quality and unique opportunities to visit the homes of some of Scotland’s most famous brands,” said Julie Hesketh-Laird, deputy chief executive of the SWA.
“It is testament to Scotch Whisky companies that visits have increased at a time when overall Scottish visitor numbers fell. This brings important benefits to the wider rural economy, as distillery visitors will also then be staying at the local B&B, visiting a local pub or café, or buying souvenirs of their stay in Scotland.”