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Record numbers of Scotch whisky tourists

Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts and cabinet secretary Fiona Hyslop celebrate Scottish whisky distilleries crossing the two million visitors mark last year.
Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts and cabinet secretary Fiona Hyslop celebrate Scottish whisky distilleries crossing the two million visitors mark last year.

Scotch Whisky tourism saw record numbers of visitors in 2018, with over 2 million visits to Scottish distilleries for the first time.

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

The survey also showed spending at visitor centres rose 12.2% to £68.3 million last year.

Collectively, Scotch whisky distilleries are the third most visited attraction in Scotland.

Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “We’re delighted that distilleries have become such popular places to visit.

“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 whisky chief said the rise in visitors reflected a “growing curiosity” about Scotch whisky.

She said: “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 industry has invested a great deal in creating fabulous visitor facilities.”

Visitor spend at distilleries increased by £7.4m last year compared to 2017. The sums spent at visitor centres has increased by 56% since 2010.

More than 20 different nationalities visited distilleries last year, with Germany and the USA providing the largest number of tourists.

Cabinet Secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “I am pleased to see so much interest in our whisky tourism sector.”

rmclaren@thecourier.co.uk

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