Visitors to brewery and distillery visitor centres in Ireland increased by 7.2%, from 2,590,215 million in 2017 to 2,778,500 million in 2018, according to new figures from the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI).
Since 2016 visitor numbers have grown by 241,294, an increase of 14%. There are now at least 24 brewery and distillery visitor centres in Ireland.
Sourced directly from visitor centres, the figures indicate that the growing number of distilleries and breweries opening around the country is benefiting Ireland’s tourism offering, as these visitor centres increasingly become destinations in their own right.
The majority of visitors came from North America, 961,361 (34.6%), followed by the UK 350,091 (12.6%), Ireland 202,831 (7.3%), Germany 150,039 (5.4%) and France 141,704 (5.1%).
The ABFI has said that it expects the number of visitors to increase again in 2019. The growth in brewery and distillery visitor centres is important for Ireland’s broader tourism strategy, as highlighted in Fáilte Ireland’s Food & Drinks Strategy 2018-2023, which specifically refers to visitor experiences as key to growing the value of Irish tourism over the next 10 years.
Commmenting on the new figures, Patricia Callan, Director of ABFI, said: “Over the past few years, Ireland’s drinks industry has grown significantly, with an influx of new players and products to the market. A knock-on effect of this growth has been the increase in brewery and distillery visitor centres, which many producers view as an additional revenue stream and an important way to showcase the quality, authenticity and heritage associated with their products and with Ireland’s drinks industry.
“Importantly, these visitor centres are located right across the country, from Donegal to Cork. Many have become destinations in their own right in rural areas, as people come to see the story behind their favourite products, meaning the drinks industry is supporting the regional spread of tourism.”