Keep the spirit of Scotland alive: enjoy a wee dram!
The call comes as new figures revealed that two in every three visits to Scotch whisky visitor centres in 2019 were from international visitors.
A record 2.16 million visits to distilleries took place last year, before the pandemic impacted international travel.
The annual survey, by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), underlined the importance of Scotch whisky to the country’s tourism.
Interest in Scotch whisky tourism has grown significantly over the last decade, boosting employment and investment in Scotland.
Visits have increased by two thirds since 2010 and over 1200 people are now directly employed in tourism roles at whisky visitor centres.
The survey also showed that over £200 million has been invested by the industry in Scotch whisky tourism in the past five years to cater for the increased demand.
In 2019 spending at visitor centres reached almost £85 million.
But now the 68 visitor centres which are Covid-secure and open to the public need local support.
Karen Betts, SWA chief executive, said: “That two in every three visits to Scotch whisky visitor centres last year were from international tourists shows how popular our whisky is around the world.
“But the figures also underline how hard Scotch whisky tourism is being hit this year, when international travel and tourism has all but disappeared as everyone plays their part in controlling the spread of Covid-19.
“All visitor centres closed in March and although some have now reopened, 2020 is proving to be a very difficult year for tourism.
“Where distillery visitor centres have reopened, what would really help us now is local tourism – from a distillery’s community and from staycationers in Scotland. Your support is vital.”
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive at VisitScotland, echoed that view.
He said: “Scotch whisky has always been an important part of our tourism offering, whether that’s enjoying a dram in our hotels, bars, or restaurants or visiting one of the many distilleries we have. While this year we are unable to welcome all of those we’d like to our shores, we know we can keep the spirit of Scotland alive.”
Scotland is home to 128 operating malt distilleries. Exports were valued at £4.9 billion in 2019, with 42 bottles of Scotch Whisky shipped overseas each second.
To find out more about distlleries and tours across the country, visit www.scotch-whisky.org.uk/discover.