Scotch Whisky tourism saw record numbers of visitors in 2017, according to the latest data from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The data showed Scotch Whisky distilleries attracted 1.9million visitors in 2017 (reflecting an 11.4% rise year-on-year) while spending at visitor centres also grew by 15.6% to £60.9million.

Karen Betts, SWA chief executive, said: “These record figures are great news for the industry and great news for Scotland.

“These are exciting times. Scotch Whisky distilleries have invested – and continue to invest – hugely in providing world-class visitor facilities at their sites all over Scotland, and they are collaborating in establishing new whisky trails and finding new ways of telling the story of Scotch to British and foreign visitors alike. And it’s a wonderful story: part traditional, part modern and set among Scotland’s communities and in it’s breathtaking landscapes.

“We will continue to work closely and collaboratively with tourist organisations, local councils and the Scottish Government to ensure that Scotland’s tourists have a memorable time visiting our country and experiencing all it has to offer.

“Whisky tourism is on the up, but tourists are often surprised that Scotch is more expensive here in the UK than it is in their home countries. They are surprised to know that every £3 in every £4 spent on a bottle of Scotch in the UK goes to the government in tax. If tax rises further in the Autumn Budget, this will put at risk further industry investment in future growth.”

Over the past 12 months distilleries have continued to recognise the value of Scotch Whisky tourism, making significant investments to improve the visitor experience – from introducing interactive experiences to extending opening hours, upgrading infrastructure to meet demand and improving the knowledge of tour guides.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP, added: “These record figures show the value of the industry and how well-regarded Scotch whisky is to tourists from the UK and abroad.

“As we are seeing innovative expansions to the visitor experience at distilleries around Scotland, I am confident we will see a further increase in visitors, which is great for our tourism sector and the wider economy.”]

The SWA’s latest data showed visiting distilleries has grown by 45% in popularity since 2010. It also showed on average more than £32 was spent during each trip t a visitor centre, up 4% year on year, and by £11 per visit since 2010.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “We are delighted that the popularity of Scotch Whisky distilleries is continuing to grow with our visitors, which reflects the hard work and investment by the industry in delivering a world-class experience.

“Scotch whisky is a culinary and cultural icon and one of Scotland’s most valuable commodities, with visitors from across the globe coming to our shores to experience an authentic Scottish dram. It is a vital part of local tourism as not only do distilleries benefit from the draw of ‘the water of life’ but so too do the surrounding towns and villages. VisitScotland continues to work with the Scotch Whisky industry to promote events, trails and films associated with Scotland’s national drink.”

Scotland is home to 122 operating malt distilleries and there are 66 Scotch Whisky visitor centres which are open to the public, and a further eight available to visit by appointment.