Since 2016 the number of visitors to these centres has increased by 14% or 241,294 and there are now at least 24 such visitor centres in Ireland.
These figures, sourced directly from visitor centres, indicate that the growing number of distilleries and breweries opening around the country is benefiting Ireland’s tourism offering as, increasingly, these visitor centres become destinations in their own right, states ABFI.
The majority of visitors came from North America at 961,361 (34.6%), followed by the UK on 350,091 (12.6%), Ireland 202,831 (7.3%), Germany 150,039 (5.4%) and France 141,704 (5.1%). ABFI expects the number of such visitors to increase again in 2019.
The growth in brewery and distillery visitor centres has become important for Ireland’s broader tourism strategy as highlighted in Fáilte Ireland’s Food & Drinks Strategy 2018-2023. This specifically refers to visitor experiences as key to growing the value of Irish tourism over the next 10 years. It notes that it will help increase the time tourists take in regional locations and increase their spend.
“Over the past few years Ireland’s drinks industry has grown significantly, with an influx of new players and products to the market,” said ABFI Director Patricia Callan, “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.
“While tourists from abroad love visiting breweries and distilleries, they’re also popular among domestic tourists who often choose to visit one during a trip.”