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24 Apr 2018

Scotland targets alco-tourism with £150m investment into Scotch Whisky projects
BY Tom Anstey

The Johnnie Walker experience will be set over multiple floors, each with whiskies from distilleries that make up the iconic blended brand

The Johnnie Walker experience will be set over multiple floors, each with whiskies from distilleries that make up the iconic blended brand

Britain's largest alcohol distiller is looking to take a leaf out of Ireland's booming alco-tourism trade by announcing plans to invest £150m (US$209m, €171.3m) into initiatives promoting whisky tourism at sites and distilleries across Scotland.

The investment comes from Diageo, which is the world's second-largest distiller, with brands including Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Guinness and more.

The largest investment into whisky tourism ever made in Britain, refurbishments will be carried out at visitor centres across Diageo's 12 flagship single malt distilleries, with a new attraction dedicated to Johnnie Walker opened in Edinburgh.

The Johnnie Walker experience will be set over multiple floors, each with whiskies from distilleries that make up the iconic blended brand, representing "the four corners of Scotland". Featuring interactive multi-sensory rooms, the attraction will also include an on-site bar for whisky tasting sessions.



In the project's development, Diageo will look to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland, which it also owns. Since its launch in 2000, the attraction has gone from strength-to-strength, now welcoming more than 1.7 million visitors a year as Ireland's most popular paid attraction, generating £316m, (US$440m, €361m) for the Irish economy each year. Diageo says it now plans to partner with Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland to promote Scotch and Scotland to potential visitors around the world.

Diageo is also extending the £1m (US$1.4m, €1.1m) per year funding support for its Learning for Life programme – a scheme that has so far helped more than 1,000 young unemployed people in Scotland into training and jobs in the hospitality industry over the last five years.

In addition to building the new Johnny Walker attraction, as the brand nears its 200th anniversary the company plans to celebrate the brand’s founder John Walker, by establishing a scholarship and mentoring programme for young entrepreneurs to "encourage a new generation of John Walkers to develop their ideas into global exporting businesses", with a specific focus on supporting young entrepreneurs from John Walker’s home town of Kilmarnock. This will be developed in partnership with local stakeholders.

The £150m investment comes in addition to the £35m (US$48.8m, €40m) already committed to two projects that will re-open the ‘lost distilleries’ of Port Ellen and Brora, taking Diageo’s network of distilleries with specialist visitor experiences in Scotland to 14.

"This significant investment will not only help attract more tourists to Scotland, offering world-class visitor experiences, but it also underlines the fundamental importance of the whisky sector to Scotland’s economy," said Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister.

"I recently launched Scotland is Now, a new campaign that will put Scotland in the international spotlight and showcase the country’s world-leading assets, such as whisky, to a global audience. This announcement highlights to the world that Scotland is a leading destination for tourists and business investors.”



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