Investment boosts Scotch whisky tourismBy Nicola Carruthers
Scotch whisky tourism reached record numbers in 2018 as two million people visited distilleries across Scotland.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) compiled the figures as part of its annual survey, which found visitor numbers have risen to 2,004,745 – representing a 6.1% year-on-year rise.
The increase in visitor numbers at distilleries across Scotland represents a 56% growth in the popularity of Scotch distilleries since 2010.
Results from the SWA’s 2018 survey also revealed that spending at visitor centres was up by 12.2% to £68.3 million (US$86.5m), with the average visitor spending £34 (US$43) on each trip – a 5.8% year-on-year increase.
More than 20 different nationalities visited Scotch distilleries in 2018, with Germany and the US representing the largest number of visitors.
The SWA also noted increased visits from France, Spain and the Netherlands, as well as India and China.
Collectively, Scotch whisky distilleries remain the third most visited attraction in its native country, after Edinburgh Castle and the National Museum of Scotland.
Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA , said: “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.
“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.”
Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, added: “With investment across Scotland, from major firms such as Diageo in the new Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh, to Rosebank in Falkirk and Brora in the Highlands, it’s a really exciting time for the whisky tourism sector.”