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21 June 2019, 05:22
A record number of people visited Scotch whisky distilleries in the last year, according to new figures.
The annual survey by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) found visits increased by 6.1% between 2017 and 2018 to more than two million for the first time.
The 2,004,745 visits represent a 56% rise on the number recorded in 2010.
Scotch Whisky distilleries remain the third most visited attractions in Scotland.
The survey also found more 20 different nationalities visited distilleries over the last year, with Germany and the US providing the largest number of Scotch whisky tourists.
Visitors from France, Spain, and the Netherlands also increased, along with a rise in the number visitors from India and China.
Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts said: "We're delighted that Scotch Whisky distilleries have become such popular places to visit.
"The growth in whisky tourism is playing a crucial role in Scotland's rural economy, with more stays at hotels, more bookings at restaurants, and more customers for local businesses, helping communities to grow and prosper."
Scotland's Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "Tourism is one of our key sectors and the spending and jobs associated with visitor centres and distilleries boost our economy, especially in more remote, rural areas.
"The Scottish Government is committed to working with partners like the Scotch Whisky Association to increase our tourism offer and encourage more people to visit our distilleries."
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "It is great news that the whisky industry continues to make such a very significant contribution to Scottish tourism.
"This is in large part a result of the industry continuing to invest in excellent tourist centres.
"Today's figures are a real boost to communities across Scotland who welcome the many visitors who are keen to sample a fine dram in spectacular scenery and find out more about Scotland's distilling heritage.
"I am very pleased that the UK Government has done much to support the whisky industry in recent years, including a continued freeze on spirits duty."