Whisky tourism has grown rapidly in Scotland over the past two years with Diageo, the country’s leading distillery operator, reporting an increase of almost 20 per cent in visitor numbers.
Tourists have flocked to the 12 distillery visitor centres run by Diageo across Scotland, with the number rising from 176,471 in 2008 to 194,505 in 2009 and to 210,432 in 2010 – an increase of 19 per cent over the two year period.
A staggering 43 different nationalities were recorded amongst the visitors to their distilleries last year, with UK tourists leading the way and accounting for 87,417 of the visits in 2010.
The other top countries, in terms of visitor numbers, reflected the traditional leading markets for Scotch whisky, with Germany, France, USA and Spain making up the top five.
The increasing popularity of Scotch in emerging markets around the world was also reflected with visitors from countries such as Brazil, China, India and Russian and Brazil enjoying tours of Diageo’s distilleries.
Diageo operates 28 malt whisky distilleries in Scotland, more than any other company, and with 12 of these having dedicated visitor centres it is also the leading provider of whisky tourism facilities. These include the homes of some of Diageo’s iconic Scotch whisky brands such as Glenkinchie, Talisker, Oban, Lagavulin, Dalwhinnie, Royal Lochnagar and Cardhu.
Despite its distant location, Talisker, on the Isle of Skye, was Diageo’s busiest distillery visitor centre with 50,550 people in 2010, a fantastic increase from 41,271 in 2008 and 47,115 in 2009.
Steve Blake, General Manager of Diageo’s Visitor Centres said the growing popularity of Scotch whisky combined with the high quality of visitor experience offered at the distilleries were the key factors in their increasing success.
He said: “We very much hope that as the popularity of Scotch continues to expand around the world we will be able to play a key role in attracting increasing numbers of visitors to Scotland.
“It is equally encouraging that we have seen such a healthy growth in UK visitors. It is clear that people love the magic, the mystery and the history of our Scotch whisky industry.”