Scotland business

Survey finds record numbers visit whisky distilleries

distillery visitor centre Image copyright SWA

A record number of tourists visited Scotch whisky distilleries last year, according to industry figures.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) recorded 1.9 million visits in its annual survey - 11.4% more than the previous year.

Spending at visitor centres was up by 15.6%, at £60.9m.

Distilleries reported that the highest number of visitors came from Germany and the USA, followed by those from India, China and Japan.

SWA chief executive Karen Betts said the figures were "great news for the industry and great news for Scotland".

She said: "Scotch whisky distilleries have invested - and continue to invest - hugely in providing world-class visitor facilities at their sites all over Scotland, and they are collaborating in establishing new whisky trails and finding new ways of telling the story of Scotch to British and foreign visitors alike."

Image copyright SWA
Image caption Karen Betts said distilleries were "finding new ways of telling the story of Scotch to British and foreign visitors alike"

She added: "We will continue to work closely and collaboratively with tourist organisations, local councils and the Scottish government to ensure that Scotland's tourists have a memorable time visiting our country and experiencing all it has to offer."

Scotch whisky facts:

Image copyright SWA
  • Scotland is home to 122 operating malt distilleries
  • There are 66 Scotch whisky visitor centres which are open to the public and a further eight available to visit by appointment
  • On average more than £32 was spent during each trip to a visitor centre - a year-on-year increase of almost 4%
  • Scotch exports were valued at £4.37bn in 2017, with 39 bottles of Scotch shipped overseas every second

Source: SWA

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop welcomed the survey results.

She said: "These record figures show the value of the industry and how well-regarded Scotch whisky is to tourists from the UK and abroad.

"As we are seeing innovative expansions to the visitor experience at distilleries around Scotland, I am confident we will see a further increase in visitors, which is great for our tourism sector and the wider economy."

In April, Scotland's biggest whisky producer, Diageo, Spirits giant announced plans to invest £150m over three years to "transform" its Scotch whisky visitor offerings.

The centrepiece will be a Johnnie Walker "immersive visitor experience" based in Edinburgh, highlighting the story of the whisky brand.

Diageo will also upgrade its network of 12 distillery visitor centres.

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