NNEW figures announced today by ScotlandWhisky – the national whisky tourism organisation – reinforce the importance of Scotch Whisky to Scotland’s tourism sector.
Visitor numbers grew by 2.6 per cent in 2009, with 1,268,553 tourists visiting a distillery in Scotland.
Consumer spending at distilleries increased by nearly 13 per cent, contributing £28.4 million  to the local economy.
Chris Conway from ScotlandWhisky, said: “These latest figures clearly show the continued attraction of Scotland’s national drink to tourists. Visitors have a real desire to find out more about Scotch Whisky, and visiting a distillery remains a ‘must-do’ activity. In fact, approximately eight per cent of visitors to Scotland tour a distillery .
“The increase in distillery visitors was in line with provisional figures for the wider Scottish tourism sector, with the growing average spend at distilleries outperforming the market.”
Conway continued: “The on-going growth of visitor numbers to distilleries is a testament to the investment and innovation distillers continue to make. More distilleries are investing in improved visitor facilities with a real emphasis on education and entertainment. Many distilleries now offer additional connoisseur tours, masterclasses and opportunities to bottle or even blend your own Whisky – as well as participating in Whisky Festivals.
“Moreover, with many of Scotland’s best-known distilleries situated in the Highlands and Islands, the increase in spend gives a particular boost to rural economies.”
Today’s figures come ahead of an important month in the whisky tourism calendar.
This year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival runs 29th April to 3rd of May with events at distilleries throughout the region (more details can be found at www.Scotlandwhisky.com).
It will be followed later in the month by the Islay Malt and Music festival: 22nd to 30th May.
Notes to Editors
- ScotlandWhisky is supported by The Scotch Whisky Association, The Scotch Whisky Experience, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, VisitScotland and its membership.
- 90 hotels, golf courses, bars and restaurants are now officially recognised as Scotch Whisky ‘Embassies’, having met specific quality criteria, including staff trained in Scotch Whisky appreciation. Further information about ScotlandWhisky and its Embassy network is available at www.scotlandwhisky.com.
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 This figure includes sales of tour tickets, retail sales from distillery shops and café sales.
 Based on the latest full year figures from VisitScotland (2008). Tourist that spend an overnight stay in Scotland