Welcome to whisky country: Moray is top for tourism

New figures show tourism in Moray and Speyside is booming. Latest figures from Moray Speyside Tourism suggest that the economic impact of tourism rose by a massive £11 million in 2017, with an extra 50,000 visitors compared to the previous year, representing the biggest ever surge in tourism in the area. Visitor numbers have been increasing dramatically in recent years, with the region consistently outperforming the vast majority of other areas surveyed in Scotland* Since 2009, an extra 177,000 people have visited the area, spending an additional £92 million pounds.

West Beach Aurora - (C) Alan Butterfield _ Moray Speyside Tourism

West Beach Aurora – (C) Alan Butterfield _ Moray Speyside Tourism

The popularity of the TV series Outlander was recently credited for a rise in overall visitor numbers to Scotland. However, whilst the Moray area offers the same stunning scenery as that seen in the TV show, experts believe that a range of factors are fuelling tourism growth in the Moray including a surge in interest in whisky, growing awareness of the beauty of the Moray coast, and that the region offers the best of Scotland in miniature without the congestion and ‘over-tourism’ of some other destinations.


Laurie Piper, Operations Manager for Moray Speyside Tourism said:

We are seeing an increase in visitors from areas where whisky sales are rising but we’re also experiencing the positive impact of our ongoing campaigns in key international markets and engagement with the worldwide travel trade. For example, last year, Moray Speyside welcomed a group of 20 travel trade buyers, showing them around the region and introducing them to local businesses.

Only one of those operators had been here before. More than half of the businesses who took part have seen an immediate increase in business, with the rest expecting increased numbers imminently. We may be famous as Malt Whisky Country, but Moray Speyside has so much more to offer and we’re now seeing the benefit of our work to showcase this diversity.

Chair of the Malt Whisky Trial, James Johnston OBE, said,

Speyside has the highest concentration of whisky distilleries in the world and we know that three out of five visitors to our beautiful region go to a distillery. There is a booming interest in whisky worldwide and many distilleries on The Malt Whisky Trail are investing in new visitor experiences so that they can give rising numbers of tourists an unforgettable experience. As well as offering a fascinating glimpse into the history of Scotch, the region has golden beaches, deep pine forests, abundant wildlife and snow-capped hills. There is plenty to do for both whisky lovers and those who want to see an unspoilt corner of Scotland, encouraging more visitors and longer stays which is important for the regions economy.

Findhorn Beach Huts - (C) Paul McMillan _ Moray Speyside Tourism

Findhorn Beach Huts – (C) Paul McMillan _ Moray Speyside Tourism

The latest tourism figures for 2017 suggest:

  • The economic impact of tourism in Moray rose to £128.88M in 2017 (an increase of £11M or 9.6% on the previous year)
  • Visitor numbers increased to 806,190 (up around 50,000 or 7.4%)
  • The total number of visitor days increased to 1,874,470 (up 75,000 or 4.2%)
  • Total employment supported by tourism rose by 77 full-time equivalent posts to 2,846

The figures mean that Moray Speyside is on target to double the value of tourism to the region to over £160m per year by 2025, according to Mr Piper.

When looking at Moray Speyside’s most recent results, the area has achieved consistent gains in terms of visitor numbers, visitor days, employment and economic impact since Moray Speyside Tourism became responsible for tourism development in the region.

Enduro (C) - Moray Speyside Tourism

Enduro (C) – Moray Speyside Tourism

Jo Robinson, Regional Director for VisitScotland said:

Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change. The latest figures show Moray Speyside are seeing the effects of this across the region and that the whisky industry is a key driver in this. Not only do distilleries benefit from the draw of ‘the water of life’ but so too do the surrounding towns and villages.

Welcoming the figures, co-owner of recently opened five star B&B Blervie house,

Sheena Thompson said:

Some guests come for the whisky and some book to stay with us on their driving tour of Scotland. However all guests find when they stay with us that Moray is such a revelation to them that the most common comment is we didn’t know what to expect we wish we had booked to stay longer.

There is something here in Moray for everyone absolutely – history, natural beauty, beaches, rivers, distilleries, activities, castles, wildlife, weather – staying at Blervie is a fabulous base for exploring it all and find time for reflection of the day in evening to enjoy the quietness and stunning evening sunsets. We love the area so much and we love to spend time helping guests choose an itinerary that works for them.

Tony Sanderson Number 17 - (C) Tony Sanderson _ Moray Speyside Tourism

Tony Sanderson Number 17 – (C) Tony Sanderson _ Moray Speyside Tourism

The Chair of the Malt Whisky Trail, James Johnston OBE said,

Not only does the Scotch Whisky industry have many loyal fans, it is also seeing a worldwide surge in new Scotch whisky drinkers  – it is therefore no surprise that more people want to come to Scotland to see the home of Scotch.  Speyside has the highest concentration of malt whisky distilleries in the world and our partner members of The Malt Whisky Trail® have been investing in their visitor centres to help explain the fascinating history and craft of whisky-making, as well as adding to the overall authenticity and experience.   Separate figures recently released by Moray Speyside Tourism show that Moray has particularly benefited from this trend with an extra 50,000 visitors last year alone. Tourists tell us that Moray is like ‘Scotland in miniature’ which may explain why it is outperforming most of the rest of Scotland in terms of year-on-year growth.  We know that visitors to this unspoilt part of Scotland have an unforgettable experience, so we expect this trend to continue

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