Scotch Whisky & Tourism

By | Category: Travel news

Have you visited a distillery? Scotland has 52 whisky visitor centres and, last year, over one and a quarter million visitors spent just short of £27 million in them. That is the summary of a report published by the Scotch Whisky Association.
It confirms the importance of whisky as a tourist attraction. But the report showed up lots of interesting features about the visitors. For a start, only about 14% of visitors are Scottish and about a quarter are from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Overwhelmingly, the greatest number, – over 60% – comes from outside the UK making whisky a key visitor attraction for overseas visitors.
The report estimates that those of us not in Scotland (but in the rest of the UK) made 2.2 million visits to distilleries which make them more popular than many leading attractions such as Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow and Edinburgh Castle. these are probably probably Scotland’s largest single site tourist attractions. But when we visit a distiller, the report suggests that we visit other local tourism attractions as well. This may be due to the fact that many distilleries have hotels and golf courses connected to them.
What does surprise me about the report is that it doesn’t highlight one very important feature for Scottish tourism. Distilleries tend to be located outside cities and quite often are in fairly remote areas so the whisky industry is bringing visitors to areas that could benefit from tourism.
Take Lagavulin as an example. This, one of the oldest distilleries, is on the south east coast of Islay. One of eight distilleries on Islay, the attractions of the island apart from whisky are the landscape. Luckily big organisations (Lagavulin is owned by Diageo) cannot centralise distilleries because the key to success is the peat and water where they are developed. So tourism will always continue to come to some remote parts of Scotland provided the whisky industry survives. Edradour from Pitlochry may be the smallest distillery in Scotland but even they have a guided tour.
So tourism and whisky are linked. And our visits are keeping some remote parts of Scotland thriving. And isn’t nice to find that there are parts of tourism are not becoming city based.
image courtesy of Edradour

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