Scotch distilleries report record visitor numbers

Distilleries such as Ardberg on Islay that offer taster drams are a draw for tourists

Nearly £53 million worth of revenue was generated by visitors to Scotch distilleries in 2016, with the average spend per person rising by 13% from £27 to £31 compared with the previous year.

According to a survey by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), there were 1.7m visits to Scotch whisky distilleries in 2016, up nearly 8% on 2015 as more distilleries open their doors to the public.

Visitors splurged nearly £53 million in 2016, and the average spend per person increased by 13% to £31. Their histories, stories and modern-day craftsmanship fascinate locals and overseas visitors alike.

"Scotch is not only Scotland's most valuable export industry, it is the world's most popular spirit, attracting thousands of global visitors to Scotland every year", said Diageo Scotland director, Ewan Andrew.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: "It's wonderful to see that Scotch whisky distilleries enjoyed a record number of visits in 2016".

'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, ' said the SWA. It's a testament to the hard work put in by these businesses to give visitors the best experience possible.

Distilleries are increasingly spending money on new bar areas, staff, and technology, partly as a result of the increased demand.

"That can't be the right way to encourage more visitors and to support an industry that plays such an important role in the economy, tourism and local communities".

Tourism secretary, Fiona Hyslop, said: "These figures are certainly good news, showing the esteem with which Scotch whisky is held around the world and the value of the whisky industry to Scotland, beyond simply revenue generated by sales and exports". Whisky festivals also helped to bring in people.

"With further enhancements to the visitor experience at distilleries around Scotland, the Scotch whisky industry can continue to generate interest among domestic and global audiences".

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