The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is urging local consumers to visit distilleries to help the industry recover from a drop in international tourists due to Covid-19.

New figures from the annual survey compiled by SWA revealed that two in every three visits to Scotch Whisky visitor centres last year were from international visitors.

During the same year, a record 2.16m visits to distilleries took place before the pandemic had a significant impact on international travel.

The survey underlined the importance of Scotch Whisky in the country’s tourism offer.

The industry is encouraging people to support their local tourist attractions, with just more than a third of the industry’s 68 visitor centres are now Covid-secure and open to the public.

Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts said: “All visitor centres closed in March and although some have now reopened, 2020 is proving to be a very difficult year for tourism.

“Where distillery visitor centres have reopened, what would really help us now is local tourism – from a distillery’s community and from staycationers holidaying in Scotland.

“UK consumers are often surprised to learn that £3 in every £4 spent on Scotch Whisky in the UK is collected in tax. The Chancellor can back the industry and support the tourism sector by cutting duty on spirits in the next budget.”

Additionally, the survey revealed that the industry invested more than £200m in Scotch Whisky tourism in the past five years to cater to the increased demand of visitors.

Welcoming the survey results, VisitScotland  chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “Scotch Whisky has always been an important part of our tourism offer whether that’s enjoying a dram in our hotels, bars, or restaurants, or visiting one of the many distilleries we have around the country.”