tourism in good spirits as leading
distilleries see surge in visitor
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.
There were 43 different nationalities
recorded amongst the visitors to
Diageo’s 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 (see table
The increasing popularity of Scotch in
emerging markets around the world was
also reflected with visitors from
countries such as Brazil, China, India
and Russia enjoying tours of
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.
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
He said: “Scotch whisky is this
country’s fastest growing export and the
great thing about whisky is that it is
also a fantastic advert for Scotland.
It’s a high quality product which
promotes Scotland as a quality tourist
destination to people all round the
"Just as we focus on the superb quality
of the whisky we produce, over recent
years we have put increasing effort into
ensuring that is matched by the visitor
experience we offer at our distilleries.
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."
VisitScotland’s Chairman, Mike Cantley,
welcomed the success of Diageo’s
distillery visitor centres and
congratulated them on their contribution
to Scotland’s tourist economy.
He said: "This is fantastic news as we
head towards the end of the Year of Food
and Drink and shows that the combination
of quality products and quality visitor
attractions are key to the visitor
experience in Scotland."