Staycationers and North American visitors helped drive a surge in Irish whiskey tourism last year.
Figures from the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) show that 677,000 people visited whiskey distilleries around the country during 2022 – a whopping 425% increase on 2021 numbers.
There were strong visitor numbers from here and North America, the UK and Germany, with an estimated €40m spent in local economies.
IWA chairperson James Doherty said 2022 was “a year of recovery” and that the aim for this year is “full recovery”.
Last year’s visitor numbers were still down on the 1 million+ visitors seen before Covid.
“While overall numbers are still down on the pre-Covid peak, we are targeting full recovery in 2023. Irish whiskey tourism makes a substantial economic contribution to local communities around Ireland, particularly in rural areas,” Mr Doherty said.
“Based on previous assessments conducted in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, we assess that tourists spent over €40 million in local communities linked to visits to distilleries.”
The IWA estimated that more than 200,000 bottles of Irish whiskey was bought from distillery gift shops last year. It added that at least 26 distilleries will be open for visits this year.