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Scotch whisky tourism hits record numbers and worth over £50m a year

Published:  01 June, 2015

Scotch whisky distilleries are attracting record numbers of visitors with over 1.5m people visiting Scotland last year generating more than £50m at distilleries.

The figures are from a recent survey carried out by the Scotch Whisky Association as part of Scotland's Year of Food and Drink campaign.  The month of May put a focus on whisky.

"During Scotland's Year of Food and Drink, and particularly during the Whisky month of May, our survey shows just how many people want to visit distilleries to see how Scotch Whisky is made, try a dram and buy a bottle to take home to family and friends.  Every year, distilleries are attracting more visitors from the UK and all parts of the globe," said Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch Whisky Association deputy chief executive.

Visitor centres at the distilleries are playing an increasingly important role in helping to attract more visitors and the investments that the distillers themselves have made are paying off.

"Scotch Whisky producers are investing in their centres and shops to give visitors the best possible experience. As well as providing another source of income for producers, the increasing number of visitors is good for the wider Scottish economy. Visitors are spending more at distilleries and are likely to being doing the same with other businesses, including hotels and restaurants. It also helps put Scotland on the map," said Hesketh-Laird.

The £50m spent was a combination of revenue from tours, sales in shops and money spent at cafés on site, which rose 85% since 2010.

According to the survey the largest proportion of visitors came from Scotland and other parts of the UK, Germany, USA and France. The source of visitors reflects some of the largest markets for Scotch. The USA is the biggest market by value for Scotch.

The findings of the SWA's survey reflect figures that were published earlier in May produced by the  Office of National Statistics showing tourism visits to Scotland increased by 5% between 2013 and last year.