Whisky Focus - Diageo Distilleries See Surge In Visitor Numbers

Diageo Distilleries See Surge In Visitor Numbers

18th April 2011

Whisky tourism in good spirits as leading distilleries see surge in visitor numbers.

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 below).

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’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.

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: “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 world.

"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."

Diageo Distillery Visitors Admission Figures

Diageo distillery visitor centre admission figures

*Blair Athol distillery visitor centre was closed for a substantial period in 2009 to allow for necessary refurbishment work, resulting in a decrease in visitor numbers.

**Cragganmore’s opening hours were significantly extended in 2009, resulting in the large increase in visitor numbers. The distillery visitor centre closes from the end of October to beginning of April. The other 11 distilleries offer year-round access, although opening times vary.

Top five nationalities of visitors to Diageo distilleries in 2010


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