New research by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) found that distillery visits increased by 7% to 1.6 million between 2014 and last year. Scotch whisky distillery visits have increased by more than 20% since 2010.
Scotch distilleries rank among some of the most popular UK visitor attractions, with a similar number of visits annually as the likes of Edinburgh Castle and London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral.*
The SWA survey also found that visitors to distilleries spend on average around £25 per head during a visit. Total spend at distillery visitor centres in 2015 was £50m, up from £27m in 2010.
Around half of Scotland’s 118 whisky distilleries are open to the public. Scotch whisky companies have invested significantly in visitor centres and tourism facilities in recent years, says the association, with the success of whisky festivals such as Islay and Speyside also helping to attract new visitors to the country.
Distilleries reported that the largest proportion of visitors came from Scotland and other parts of the UK, Germany, the US and France – reflecting some of the largest markets for scotch around the world.
Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch Whisky Association deputy chief executive, said: “Scotch Whisky distilleries offer high-quality and unique opportunities to visit the homes of some of Scotland’s most famous brands.
“It is testament to Scotch Whisky companies that visits have increased at a time when overall Scottish visitor numbers fell. This brings important benefits to the wider rural economy, as distillery visitors will also then be staying at the local B&B, visiting a local pub or café, or buying souvenirs of their stay in Scotland,” said Hesketh-Laird.
*Comparative figures for other visitor attractions were sourced from the following news release by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA): http://alva.org.uk/details.cfm?p=423.