Whisky tourism is still in growth

Growing curiosity about Scotch credited with boosting visits

The number of visits to Scotland’s distilleries is increasing year on year

GROWING curiosity about how whisky is made is credited with helping boost whisky tourism, as visits to Scotland’s distilleries topped two million for the first time.

That distilleries offer “something of an antidote to today’s fast-paced world” was also cited as a draw for visitors by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) as it published the record numbers for 2018.

The total number of visits to distilleries was up 6.1% to 2.005 million last year, according to the SWA’s annual survey, which said the figure represents a 56% increase in visits since 2010.

Collectively, Scotch whisky distilleries remain the third most visited attraction in Scotland, behind the National Museum of Scotland (2.23 million visits in 2018) and Edinburgh Castle (2.11 million visits).

Spending at distillery visitor centres also saw a boost last year, up 12.2% to £68.3 million, while average spend per visit was £34.08 – a 5.8% increase. Over 20 different nationalities visited distilleries last year, with the biggest number of whisky tourists coming from Germany and the USA. Increased visits from France, Spain, the Netherlands, India and China were also recorded.

The organisation’s chief executive, Karen Betts, 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.

“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.”