Scotch Whisky tourism hits record 1.9m visitors

Scotch Whisky tourism saw record numbers of visitors in 2017, with 1.9 million visits to Scotch Whisky distilleries and spending at visitor centres up 15.6% to £60.9 million.

The 2017 annual survey compiled by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the highest number of visitors came from Germany and the US, followed by India, China and Japan.

The SWA said the increase in visits to 1.9 million is an 11.4% rise year on year and represents 45% growth since 2010.

The SWA survey also shows that on average more than £32 was spent during each trip to a visitor centre, up almost 4% year on year.

The success story of Scotch Whisky tourism has also positioned the industry as one of the leading UK attractions.

The National Museum of Scotland and Edinburgh Castle are the top attractions outside London, both attracting more than 2 million visits in 2017, just 100,000 more than those drawn to the distilleries.

The SWA said distilleries have continued to make investments to improve the visitor experience — from introducing interactive experiences to extending opening hours, upgrading infrastructure to meet demand and improving the knowledge of tour guides.

Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “These record figures are great news for the industry and great news for Scotland.

“These are exciting times.

“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.

“And it’s a wonderful story: part traditional, part modern and set among Scotland’s communities and in its breathtaking landscapes.

“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.

“Whisky tourism is on the up, but tourists are often surprised that Scotch is more expensive here in the UK than it is in their home countries.

“They are surprised to know that £3 in every £4 spent on a bottle of Scotch in the UK goes to the government in tax.

“If tax rises further in the Autumn Budget, this will put at risk further industry investment in future growth.”