SWA predicts strong year for whisky tourism

6th March, 2018 by Nicola Carruthers

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is forecasting a strong year for whisky distilleries as visitor numbers hit new highs.

Scotch whisky

SWA predicts a “strong” year for Scotch whisky distilleries

Figures released by the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions highlighted a boost to whisky tourism in 2017, including Blair Athol Distillery Visitor Centre (+18%), Caol Ila Distillery Visitor Centre (+32%), Glen Ord Distillery Visitor Centre (+28%) and Kingsbarns Distillery (+30%), and The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh (+16%).

Scotch whisky distilleries attracted a record-breaking 1.7 million visitors in 2016, up by almost 8% year-on-year, according to the SWA’s annual survey.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA, said: “It’s fabulous to see Scottish distilleries attracting more and more visitors from the UK and all over the world.

“There has been a 25% increase in visits to Scotch whisky distilleries since 2010 and we fully expect this trend to continue in the year ahead.

“Scotch whisky producers have invested in distillery visitor centres, their staff and shops to ensure their guests get the best possible experience.

“As well as benefitting our industry, the increasing number of visitors is great news for the wider Scottish economy, particularly in rural areas, with visitors to Scotch whisky distilleries staying in local hotels, eating high quality meals in pubs and restaurants, and shopping for local products.”

According to Betts, the full 2017 Scotch whisky figures will be published in the “coming months”, and are expected to “demonstrate even more improvement”.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland said: “Whisky tourism is a vital part of local tourism for many areas in Scotland, such as Speyside or Islay who are renowned for their links to the national drink, and help draw thousands of visitors to the country, creating jobs and sustaining communities.

“It’s fantastic to see the industry recognising the rewards of whisky tourism by investing and improving the visitor experience.”

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