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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Scotch whisky tourism: More Indians visiting distilleries

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has reported a record numbers of visitors to distilleries in 2018, including over 2 million first-time visits. Its annual survey reveals visits were up 6.1% year on year and 56% more than in 2010.

india Updated: Jul 05, 2019 17:22 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Scotland has over 120 malt and grain distilleries, many with extensive visitor facilities.
Scotland has over 120 malt and grain distilleries, many with extensive visitor facilities.(AFP File Photo)
         

It is not only London and its iconic locations that attract Indian tourists – more are making the journey up north to Scotland to visit distilleries of prominent Scotch whisky brands that are increasingly available back home, albeit at a higher cost due to a 150% tariff.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has reported a record numbers of visitors to distilleries in 2018, including over 2 million first-time visits. Its annual survey reveals visits were up 6.1% year on year and 56% more than in 2010.

The survey shows spending at visitor centres was up by 12.2% to £68.3 million. Visitors came from 20 countries, with Germany and the US providing the largest number, but also increased visits by tourists from India, China, France and Spain.

Scotland has over 120 malt and grain distilleries, many with extensive visitor facilities.

Karen Betts, SWA chief executive, said: “The growing number of visitors reflects a growing curiosity about Scotch Whisky. Today’s consumers want to understand and experience how their favourite blends and malts are made, to meet the people who make them, and to see which part of Scotland’s beautiful landscape they call home”.

“Distilleries offer something of an antidote to today’s fast-paced world, where visitors can see the slow, careful craft, rooted in a distinct sense of place, that creates Scotch Whisky”.

The SWA says securing improved market access to India is its ‘number one trade priority’. According its overview of exports, Scotch whisky industry is worth over £4 billion annually, with 41 bottles shipped every second to 175 global markets, totalling more than 1.2 billion bottles each year.

On India, it says: “India is a 300 million-case market for spirits, yet Scotch Whisky accounts for just 1% of the market”.

“This is partly due to the 150% tariff applied by the Government of India, but the country’s federal structure also complicates the market for the industry with responsibility for alcohol devolved to individual states in India, creating in effect 28 separate markets each with differing regulations, taxes and restrictions”.

Boris Johnson, one of two candidates to be the UK’s next prime minister, has spoken to Scotch whisky being on top of the agenda in talks for a post-Brexit trade deal with India, hoping that the 150% tariff would be reduced substantially, if not abolished.

First Published: Jul 05, 2019 17:21 IST

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