The latest annual survey from the SWA found that visits have increased by around a quarter since 2010 and more than half of Scotland's 123 Scotch Whisky distilleries now welcome members of the public.
|Scotch whisky tourism more popular than ever according to new survey results
Collectively, Scotch whisky distilleries rank among some of the most popular Scottish and UK attractions, with a similar number of visits annually to the likes of St Paul's Cathedral, the Royal Albert Hall and the Scottish National Gallery.
The current Scottish Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is likely to give a further boost to visitor numbers as Scotch Whisky is a key part of Scotland's past and its present.
In the short term, many distilleries believe that Brexit has given tourism a boost with more visitors coming to Scotland because of the weak pound and spending more at distilleries while they are there. But the longer-term impact of Brexit is not yet clear.
However, current uncertainty has not adversely affected investment in visitor facilities. Over the last year distilleries have spent money on new bar areas, staff, technology, such as apps for visitors, and staff, partly as a result of longer opening hours to meet demand. Over the next 12 months, many plan to continue to invest, for example in upgrading shops and tasting areas to enhance the visitor experience.
Commenting on the news, Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association, Chief Executive, said: "Scotch whisky - Scotland's most popular export - is known throughout the world. It is produced right across Scotland, in some of our most beautiful landscapes and some of our remotest communities. Each distillery is distinctly of its place. Their histories, stories and modern-day craftsmanship fascinate locals and overseas visitors alike. It's not surprising that more and more tourists are visiting Scotland's distilleries to see how Scotch is made and to meet the people involved.”
She went onto say: "Last year, Scotch Whisky distilleries achieved a record 1.7 million visits, up almost 8% on 2015, and people are spending more than before - often to take a taste of Scotland home with them. Brexit and the weakness of sterling have given a short-term boost to distilleries, and, despite some uncertainty about the long-term, they are continuing to invest to improve visitor facilities.”
According to the survey results, visitors are also spending more than before at distilleries. A total of almost £53 million was spent by visitors in 2016, up from last year. The average spend per person increased 13% to £31 from £27.
Posted by Steve Rush