THE TEAM BEHIND the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival reported their most successful ever year this week when they met at their Annual General Meeting at the Fleming Hall in Aberlour.
Festival directors reflected on a year that saw the expansion of their portfolio – and looked ahead to the coming year when it is estimated Spirit of Speyside will bring in £1.5million to the local economy – and firmly position the region as the epicentre of the Malt Whisky world.
The ability to attract overseas visitors to Moray and Speyside was underlined when it was reported that 62% of those who attended in 2016 were from outside the UK, with visitors from Germany, USA, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Italy and Canada.
Overall visitors to the main spring Festival and the new Autumn ‘Distilled’ Festival saw an increase of 7.4% to a total 28,337 – and visitors remained longer in the region, an average 4.5 nights.
Festival manager Pery Zakeri sair: “The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is a flagship event on the Scottish stage, attracting increasing numbers of overseas visitors each year.
“Crucially, the 2016 event encouraged visitors to stay for an average of 4.5 days compared to the average of 3 days in 2015 – and this benefits all businesses in the tourism economy locally. By expanding the horizons of the Festival to other European cities and events we’re extending the reach and the appeal. All of the hard work of our members has certainly paid off in 2016.”
For the first time in 2016 the main festival was joined by Spirit of Speyside: Distilled – and that indoor event at the Elgin Town Hall proved such a success that it has been confirmed it will return in 2017.
Festival Chairman James Campbell added: “Research shows that 43% of visitors from Germany visit a whisky distillery whilst in Scotland which underlines the importance of the German visitor to Speyside and to the Festival.
“Visits to whisky distilleries remains most popular with overseas visitors with some 1.1 million visits recorded to distilleries in Scotland in a year. The Festival offers a mature product which appeals to those who have a well-developed interest in whisky and its production as well as having plenty of events for those who are not strict ‘aficionados’ and just love the friendly welcome and the chance to learn more.
“Distilled showed us that there is an obvious market from a slightly younger demographic who enjoy finding such a range of food and drink under one roof on one day. The Festival directors look forward to developing this event further in 2017.”