Memorandum from the Scottish Tourist Board
COMMENTS FROM AREA TOURIST BOARD CHIEF EXECUTIVES
AND SCOTTISH TOURIST BOARD DIRECTORS
(Kingdom of Fife Tourist Board)
I think there is definitely potential for tourism
related business to be generated by the smaller traditional type
of brewery such as Inveralmond. Unfortunately, I cannot and don't
have access to facts or figures indicating that specifically any
spend from tourism actually helps existing breweries. However,
I have anecdotal evidence from trade contacts that their business
is significantly increased by tourism. For example I know that
one brewery is in the difficult but happy position of struggling
to meet demand during the main tourist season albeit the season
is not particularly long. I am thinking of breweries such as the
Isle of Skye Brewing Co, Orkney Brewery, Black Isle Brewery etc.
Having established that there is a potential
to exploit the tourist market how could this best be done for
small brewers? A typical brewery output can be split into two
distinct linesdraught and bottle sales. Within each line
there is further scope for product lines such as gift packs for
The draught market is extremely tight in Scotland
with large discounts being demanded by the large pub groups eg
Wetherspoons or brewers such as Belhaven which in turn leads to
reduced margin on this type of product and a lack of control over
sales. The smaller producers are therefore in a bit of a vicious
cycle with low margins leading to low levels of marketing support
and so on. That is not to say it is all doom and gloom as sales
are still achieved in the free trade but it is evident that a
lot of our free trade Customers are very tourist driven themselves
with distinct increases of sales at peak tourist visiting times.
Some form of improved/supported marketing may be one way of overcoming
some of the above problems with the larger customers whilst also
allowing us to present products in a more professional manner
at the bar of free trade outlets. We know that awareness of our
product is poor amongst the general public unless they have a
specific interest such as CAMRA members. Anything to aid awareness
would be good.
With regard to bottles this is potentially a
very good opportunity but again that depends on public awareness
of the brewery and its products. We have certainly found that
if tourists manage to find us then they will invariably buy some
bottles direct from us which is a good margin. However, I am sure
you appreciate that having a brewery on an industrial estate is
not ideal for that type of business. Some breweries do make a
feature of their premises but this depends on individual circumstances
eg Houston Brewery is tacked onto the side of The Fox & Hounds
in Houston and it is built to look "quaint" and Isle
of Skye have a wonderful position at a ferry terminalcaptive
One angle we have adopted is becoming a licensee
of Scotland the Brand and we are very keen to promote this as
much as possible. General public perception of this initiative
is not very good but in time I believe it will prove itself so
we are going to stick with it. Some way of exploiting this with
regard to tourism may be beneficial.
One further aspect which I touched on before
is economies of scale of large breweries. This is also complicated
by the soft loan or tie system that operates within this industry.
As a result the small brewery main trade association which is
SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) has been behind a long running
campaign to reduce the burden of beer excise duty on smaller producers.
They have been lobbying parliament for some time now. The basic
idea is that all breweries would pay 50 per cent of the excise
bill up to a certain annual sales volume and then say 75 per cent
up to another threshold and so on. The benefit from this would
be used to help reduce prices, increase marketing spend, create
jobs etc, etc. I think it needs to be thought through really carefully
though as I think it could lead to the influx of a lot of cowboys
into the market intent on making a fast buck on the back of low
beer prices and giving us all a bad name.
(Argyll, the Isles, Loch Lomond, Stirling &
Trossachs Tourist Board)
(i) The scale and significance of the whisky
industry to tourism is very evident in fragile island areas such
as Islay and Jura where there is a major concentration of distillery
activity. A number of the well known distilleries eg Bowmore,
Laphroaig and Ardbeg have spent millions developing visitor centres
in locations which would otherwise be bereft of formal visitor
attractions. There are many other spin-off tourism benefits in
addition to this in terms of contributions to local festivals,
international promotion of specific brands/destination and contributions
to ferry transport operating costs through heavy usage of ferries.
(ii) There is a strong case for lower duty
levels but I suspect there is little sympathy at Government level
for this. A number of factors have led to producers trying to
minimise production costs which, in turn, has reduced the numbers
employed in distilleries in recent years. The drive for more efficiency
has been partly due to distillers trying to compensate for tightening
(iii) I agree more could be done to develop
the tourism potential of traditional Scottish beer-makers. Locally
we have worked with a brewer to capitalise on the success of Braveheart.
At the National Wallace Monument and other attractions around
Stirling substantial quantities of the Wallace bottled beer are
now sold as souvenirs. Strong branding and merchandising of beers
based on famous historical characters have proved to be popular
and have added to the diversity of the local tourism product.
Also there has been growing interest in local beer festivals which
again add to the appeal and vibrancy of the local tourism product.
(Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley Tourist Board)
I have been a licensee for ten years in Glasgow,
have managed four City Centre Hotels and I am a Fellow of the
British Institute of Inn Keeping. I would like to tender the following
points that you may wish to consider.
The current licensing laws in Scotland require
pubs to close at midnight in Scotland, whilst in England, it is
one hour earlier. The Prime Minister has indicated that he would
like the licensing laws for the UK to be consistent in England,
Scotland and Wales. It would not be desirable for the licensing
hours in Scotland to be reduced to those hours in England. Tourists
coming to Scotland are already disadvantaged if they wish to drink
after midnight. Compared to our European competitors, the licensing
laws are too strict, and impose a time limit which is not the
case in Amsterdam for instance.
There is disparity in the hours of licensing
laws which penalises certain groups of tourists. For instance,
Clubs in Glasgow can be licensed until 3 or 4 am serving a younger
tourist market from 18 years of age upwards.
Generally, older tourists frequenting the pubs
and restaurants have their enjoyment and opportunity to stay out
curtailed at midnight. The licensing laws regarding opening hours
should be relaxed to prevent what happens in England at 11pm when
all the pub clientele exit onto the streets.
This causes problems that have been well documented.
Allowing pubs to close when they want to prevent the types of
heavy drinking to beat the clock, and exodus onto the street.
Bars have applied for a breakfast licenses in
Glasgow allowing to serve alcohol at 8am. Due to lack of demand,
all but one has continued the service. This demonstrates that
where there is no demand for pubs to open, they will open. Pubs
should be left to open when they want to, and will subsequently
find their own market level of hours. Demand will effectively
define the opening hours. During the peak tourist months, pubs
would stay open later due to demand, but would shut earlier in
downtime demand periods.
No radical change in licensing hours in Scotland
are expected for at least a year. However, the industry is in
complete turmoil in both England and Scotland. A pub closes every
week in Kent for instance, as cheap drink is brought across the
channel and sold from unlicensed premises. The industry in Scotland
wants regulation, and tighter restrictions to prevent it being
In Scotland, the Channel Tunnel is less accessible,
and the problem is seen to be less acute. However, huge changes
in the industry in Scotland are happening as the brewers desperately
try to unload their pubs. For instance, Bass sold 990 pubs last
week to the Japanese property company Nymurawhich now owns
a large number in Glasgow. Whitbread sold 3,000 pubs to the Royal
Bank of Scotland. Scottish and Newcastle are offloading a significant
number of their pubs at the moment.
Whilst pubs being taken over for their property
value (and for the return on investment, particularly whilst interest
rates are low), their mid term future is questionable. City pubs
serving city tourists are being bought for their site value. Rural
pubs are being sold because of low returns, and purchased for
property value alone. Poor return properties previously propped
up by the brewers will be closed. Tourists could face closed pub
after closed pub as they travel round Scotland.
Director, Tourism Futures, STB
1. Whisky is an important Scottish icon
esp in overseas market ie people recognise whisky (quality product)
comes from Scotland and vice versa. Does it make them visit? A
small number only but it does help keep Scotland front of mind.
So it does more of an awareness job than anything concrete. Of
the Glenmorangie ads that were shown on UK TV with fabulous scenery
in them talking about "Glen of Tranquillity".
2. The whisky companies have not been particularly
interested in working with us on joint activity (but note Famous
Grouse did sponsor our golf brochure). Often in their marketing
they do not promote the Scottishness of their product as this
is not what differentiates it particularly in European markets
where it is more "fashionable".
3. The whisky festival in Moray has been
reasonably successful (CID will be able to provide more detailed
information on the product if you require) and distilleries are
always important as visitor attractions. So there are synergies
and benefits here.
4. Not sure of potential for beer. Again
quite a niche but in the USA micro breweries are seeing big growth.
Not anything we have promoted as yet though.
Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board
We use the iconic element of whisky in images
and text, for example using a list of whiskies in the download
sequence for our web site http://www.wannabethere.com. We have
good local relationships with distillers for providing hospitality
gifts etc, and are in partnership with UDV in promoting the Talisker
Quality Awards for tourism on Skye.
There is strong interest from visitors, particularly
from overseas, in sampling whisky at point of origin. This is
evidenced by the visitor numbers at distillery visitor centres
(available from the Glasgow Caledonian University survey). We
have had anecdotal feedback that they are surprised to find that
the cost at the Distillery shop is much higher than in a supermarket
at home in Europe. Despite this, sales at distilleries and through
specialist tourism outlets such as the Hector Russell Group's
Whisky Shops indicate buoyancy in tourism related retail. Availability
of a good range of malt whiskies is an important selling point
for hotels and restaurants. This feature appears regularly in
A change in the tax regime to reduce price barriers
would be welcome, but it is difficult to quantify the value. The
Committee may wish to take evidence from other linked tourism
and drink producing areas in the world to ascertain whether there
is a link between product price competitiveness, on site retail
sales and visitor numbers.
Whisky and tourism are both lifestyle products,
and there is potential to align marketing for the two products
more closely. While there are examples of good practice individually,
there is not as strong a link as might be expected between Scotland's
two great consumer products.
Beer production does not have such strong links
with tourism in the Highlands, although there has been a growth
in small micro breweries who depend heavily on tourist curiosity
for sales. I am not aware of any data on the tourism impact on
this sectoranother topic which would benefit from research.
Beer sales are less sensitive to excise duty levels as it is much
less of a carry home product.
Parliamentary Liaison Officer
Scottish Tourist Board