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Scotch Whisky tourism hits record high

Published:  21 June, 2019

Over 2 million tourists visited Scotch Whisky distilleries in 2018, a record number.

According to the annual survey compiled by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) visits were up 6.1% year on year - 56% more than in 2010.

Spending at visitor centres was also up by 12.2% to £68.3m - an additional £7.4m on 2017 and 154% more than in 2010.

The majority of visitors hailed from Germany and the USA, but the survey also revealed an increase in tourists from France, Spain, the Netherlands, India and China.

“We’re delighted that Scotch Whisky distilleries have become such popular places to visit,” said Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive. “The growing number of visitors to distilleries reflects in part the growth in tourism in Scotland in general, and people coming to Scotland want to see our local crafts and sample our local food and drink.

“But it also reflects a growing curiosity about Scotch Whisky. Today’s consumers want to understand and experience how their favourite blends and malts are made, to meet the people who make them, and to see which part of Scotland’s beautiful landscape they call home.

“Distilleries offer something of an antidote to today’s fast-paced world, where visitors can see the slow, careful craft, rooted in a distinct sense of place, that creates Scotch Whisky.

“The growth in whisky tourism is also playing a crucial role in Scotland’s rural economy, with more stays at hotels, more bookings at restaurants, and more customers for local businesses, helping communities to grow and prosper.

“The industry has invested a great deal in creating fabulous visitor facilities. That investment has been fostered by the more stable tax environment created by recent freezes in excise duty. We hope the government will continue this policy, which has both boosted the revenues available to fund public services and helped the industry to continue to invest in world-class visitor attractions.”

Rt Hon David Mundell MP, secretary of state for Scotland, said: “It is great news that the whisky industry continues to make such a very significant contribution to Scottish tourism. This is in large part a result of the industry continuing to invest in excellent tourist centres.

“Today’s figures are a real boost to communities across Scotland who welcome the many visitors who are keen to sample a fine dram in spectacular scenery and find out more about Scotland’s distilling heritage.

“I am very pleased that the UK Government has done much to support the whisky industry in recent years, including a continued freeze on spirits duty.”