Organisers of the 2013 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival have cause to celebrate with a dram or two – the event generated almost £1.65 million for the local economy, attracted 32,000 visits to events, and saw an increase of 30% in ticket sales.
A report released by the Festival shows that the five-day event, which ran from May 2-6, also benefited from a rise in the number of international visitors and an increase in repeat visitors.
An expanded programme resulted in 370 events taking place across a larger area, with the festival extending south into Aviemore for the first time and securing its position as one of the leading whisky festivals in the world.
Festival chairman James Campbell said: “We are delighted with this year’s figures, which have seen a significant increase in the economic impact of the festival on Moray and Speyside. The festival generated almost £1.65 million to the local economy, an increase of 12% on 2012, with 78% of visitors staying overnight in the Moray Speyside area.”
There was a marked increase in visitors from the USA and Canada, and visitors also travelled from as far afield as Russia, Brazil and South Africa. Scandinavian visitors continued to represent the keenest Speyside whisky fans who were attracted by the exceptional choice of whisky-based events and activities.
“We certainly know our visitors enjoyed themselves, almost 100% of our visitors said they were ‘very happy’ or ‘happy’ with their Festival experience, enjoying the atmosphere, hospitality, friendliness, expert knowledge and, this year in particular, the weather,” added Mr Campbell.
Festival manager, Mary Hemsworth, was equally positive about the impact of this year’s event. She said: “Year after year the Festival continues to attract visitors from around the globe, with many having attended five or more times.
“Encouragingly, a large percentage of visitors this year were experiencing the Festival for the first time. Hopefully they found the Festival as enjoyable and welcoming as our many loyal and regular visitors, and will come back to join in the festivities with us next year in Scotland’s Year of Homecoming 2014.”
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Market Research and Festival Evaluation 2013 report found that the festival showcased the very best of the area’s culture, history, landscape and people and with over 370 events running throughout the five days.
Some of the most popular events on this year’s Festival programme included the Whisky Awards Judging and Awards Lunch and the Opening Dinner, as well as the highly regarded and exclusive three-day Whisky School where enthusiasts learned about the science, art and folklore of the whisky industry at the historic Knockando Distillery.
Next year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is one of the key events in Homecoming 2014 and will kick off Whisky Month. The celebration, which will run throughout May, will get underway in the Speyside region before taking in other whisky events across Scotland. The event programme and tickets will go live on the festival website early next year.