MORAY'S MP and MSP have welcomed the announcement by Diageo that it will invest £150 million in whisky tourism across Scotland - which is expected to boost visitor numbers at Moray distilleries.
The money will be used to create a Johnny Walker experience at Diageo's network of 12 visitor centres.
Conservative MP Douglas Ross said: "This investment is fantastic for the industry, and as a member of the All Party Group on Scotch Whisky at Westminster, I very much welcome the plans by Diageo to invest in their distilleries across Scotland.
"As MP for Moray, I’m excited by the proposals which will put Cardhu Distillery at the heart of Diageo’s plans as it will represent one of the four corners of Scotland in the new visitor experience. I know this is a very exciting prospect for the area and everyone involved with the distillery.
"I visited Cardhu earlier this year and was very impressed by the operation there and this further investment in the visitor experience will no doubt attract many more people to the distillery and surrounding area.
"These proposals have stemmed from the growth in Scotch whisky tourism in recent years and there is no doubt the plans will be a boost to rural economies and bring significant benefits to the Moray area and across Scotland."
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead added: "The investment in whisky-related tourism by Diageo is most welcome and provides a boost for Speyside's reputation as home of Scotch whisky half of which is produced in the region. Our local distilleries are becoming increasingly popular as international visitors in particular choose to visit the home of their favourite dram and experience the magic of distilling at first hand."
The SNP MSP added: "The companies appreciate more than ever that the personal experience of visiting a distillery is a great way to win new customers and build a closer relationship with existing ones.
"Speyside is about to benefit from the new iconic Macallan distillery as well as this new investment from Diageo heralding a new era in whisky tourism.
"There are plenty of other opportunities to consider.
"The wider industry with the support of the public sector could learn from other countries and capitalise on Speyside's fame in the way that wine producing regions around the world have successfully done. It's encouraging that the industry is beginning to get behind the tourism potential of our most iconic product."
More on this story in this Friday's Northern Scot print edition