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Scotch visitor centres become nation’s top attraction

More than two million people visited Scotch whisky visitor centres in 2022, figures by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) have revealed.

The Macallan Distillery
In 2018, The Macallan opened a £140m distillery and visitor centre

Footfall more than doubled (114%) compared with 2021, with visitor centres collectively becoming the top tourist attraction in Scotland.

The number nearly matched that of pre-pandemic levels – 2.1 million people visited Scotch centres in 2019, a record high.

Data was collected as part of the SWA Scotch Whisky Tourism Survey (2022), which surveyed 45 Scotch whisky tourism visitor centres.

Wellbeing economy secretary Neil Gray MSP said: “The Scotch whisky industry is extremely valuable to the Scottish economy in terms of production and exports and, as latest figures show, increasingly also for tourism and hospitality.

“Achieving more than two million visits to Scotch whisky visitor centres in 2022 demonstrates the allure of world-class Scotch whisky visitor attractions, and the successful efforts of the wider tourism industry to rebuild Scotland’s profile post-pandemic.”

Spend per head at visitor centres increased by 8.65%, with more than £85 million (US$104m) spent in total at sites across Scotland’s five whisky regions, up 90% since 2010.

UK visitors accounted for more than half (51%) of all visitors, with other key demographics including the US, Germany, the Netherlands and France.

More than 1,100 people are employed at Scotch whisky visitor centres across the nation, many of which are based in rural areas. Investment in whisky tourism has totalled more than £300m (US$367m) in the past decade.

Mark Kent, chief executive of the SWA, said: “Scotch whisky forms a key part of the Scottish economy, helping to put Scotland on the map and driving tourism from around the world.

“Visiting a Scotch whisky site is an unforgettable experience, and our industry’s focus on delivering a world-class tourism offering is helping to make memories for millions of people who travel to Scotland to discover Scotch for themselves.”

Visitor centres and experiential marketing have become hugely important for both whisky and other spirits brands.

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