The Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy sets out how Ireland can become the world leader in whiskey tourism by 2030.

The Irish Whiskey Association together and Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, launched the Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy earlier this month.

The strategy sets out four recommendations which are required in order to achieve that objective:

  • Support the growth of Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres.
  • Develop an all island whiskey tourism product.
  • Create an Irish whiskey trail and tourism infrastructure around distilleries.
  • Develop an embassy network of hotels, restaurants and pubs.

The strategy forecasts that the future of Irish whiskey tourism is dependent on a collaboration of local communities and state agencies supporting the growth of Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres all around the island.

It proposes innovative ideas including the establishment of an all-island whiskey trail that will attract a significant number of tourists to Ireland, similar to the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky, which attracts nearly a million tourists every year.

The strategy also highlights the paramount importance of working with tourism bodies to develop the necessary infrastructure to facilitate this growth.

It recommends the development of a hospitality embassy network connected to the Irish whiskey trail will make it easier for visitors to undertake specialist whiskey tours, while extending the benefits of whiskey tourism to local businesses and cultural hubs around each distillery.

The Scotch whisky embassy network for example has created 1,370 jobs and contributes over £43m to the local economy.

With these support systems and solid foundation structures in place, the strategy says that Ireland will be able to offer an even more distinctive all Ireland-whiskey product with global appeal, setting it on the path to become the world leader in whiskey tourism by 2030.

The Head of the Irish Whiskey Association, Miriam Mooney, said that what we’ve witnessed over the past few years truly is a renaissance in the industry.

“This strategy sets the conditions for the next step in growth for the industry. In 2013 there were just four distilleries in Ireland, today there are 16 in production and 13 in planning in 18 counties across Ireland.

“With national and local government support, Irish whiskey tourism has the potential to grow from 653,277 visitors every year up to 1.9m visitors by 2025, spending an estimated €1.3 billion every year.”

Speaking at the launch, Chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association, and CEO of Walsh Whiskey Distillery, Bernard Walsh said Irish whiskey is a real success story, we are reaching new markets and new consumers.

We have an authentic story to tell and a great opportunity to capitalise on growing sales and to drive more tourists to this country by developing the right environment for whiskey-trail tourists.

“To do this we want to work with state agencies to put the right supports in place and with Government to create the right policy environment to enable the sector to grow and thrive.

“Our current excise rates mean that a bottle of Irish whiskey that costs €42 in Ireland, costs just €27 in the US.

“This makes no sense in the context of encouraging whiskey tourism. Also, new proposals under the Public Health Alcohol Bill will restrict the new entrants and smaller distillers that are needed to promote sustainability through depth and diversity in the Irish whiskey category and so stymie growth in the sector.”