The Irish Whiskey Association has launched its Regional Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy in The Old Bushmills Distillery, in association with Food NI.
The Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy aims to work with distilleries around the island to treble the number of visitors to Irish whiskey distilleries, to 1.9m by 2025, delivering £1.1bn annually to towns across the island creating hundreds of jobs.
Miriam Mooney, Head of the Irish Whiskey Association, said: “Irish whiskey distilleries are positioning themselves as key tourist attractions. Already, The Old Bushmills Distillery and Echlinville Distillery are succeeding in attracting more than 120,000 visitors every year.”
Until recently, The Old Bushmills Distillery was the only distillery in the region. There are now three Irish whiskey distilleries in production and soon there will be four operating across counties Antrim, Derry and Down.
“We believe that when Rademon Estate Distillery and The Quiet Man Distillery open their visitor centres, the number of whiskey tourists travelling to the region may exceed 200,000 visitors every year. Local distilleries will play an integral role in making Ireland the world’s number one whiskey tourism destination,” commented Miriam Mooney.
It is estimated that local distilleries will soon support 155 direct jobs across the region and many more jobs will be created in the hospitality sector as a result.
“It is vital that the Irish Whiskey Association can work together with tourism authorities on both sides of the border to ensure the future success of Irish whiskey tourism and support the growth of distilleries across the island,” said Colum Egan, Chair of the Irish Whiskey Association and Master Distiller at Bushmills Distillery.
Irish whiskey is protected by a geographical indicator, meaning that it can only be produced on the island of Ireland and the Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy takes an all-island approach to promoting whiskey tourism.
Michele Shirlow, Chief Executive of Food NI and Board Member of TourismNI who launched the strategy, said: “Food and drink tourism is growing rapidly in Northern Ireland and we believe that Irish whiskey distilleries will play a valuable role in attracting even more tourists to the region. We look forward to working with the Irish Whiskey Association and all distilleries to create the best possible whiskey tourism offering that showcases all this island has to offer.”