Scotch Whisky Advertising Ban Update

Following massive backlash from the Scottish drinks trade, the proposal to ban and restrict the promotion and advertising of alcohol has been ‘sent back to the drawing board’ says Humza Yousef, Scotland’s new first minister. The ban has been encouraged by troubling statistics regarding alcohol consumption across Scotland and is supported by health professionals across the country. Although the Scottish Government are keen to tighten up restrictions to reduce illnesses and behaviours caused by heavy and regular alcohol consumption, they are aware this could be at the detriment of the tourism trade in the Scotland which has to be considered carefully.

The issue made national and international headlines of late with new plans to ban alcohol advertising in Scotland. The new legislation was even set to scrap sponsorships and memorabilia, meaning distilleries couldn’t sell branded t-shirts and glassware or sponsor big sporting and cultural events. The potential impact this could have on international tourism, rural communities and big Scottish brands is massive with many major industry leaders speaking out publicly about the potential damage it could cause.

It’s well known that in Scotland the whisky industry is one of our largest economic assets with it being envied by countries all over the world for its rich and popular heritage and culture. With many big events in Scotland such as Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Scottish Film Festival and Scottish Ballet often gaining sponsorship from alcohol firms, there could be significant cultural and economic loss that would typically bring in droves of tourists each year.

It has also been noted that many breweries and distilleries exist is largely remote or rural area where there isn’t much else to do meaning that they potentially cut off the benefits the local communities gain from bringing in large volumes of tourism that smaller businesses such as cafes, hotels and restaurants would benefit from. Many state that it is fundamental the existence of these communities with it creating jobs and opportunities for locals.

The delay on the decision however doesn’t remove the anxiety surrounding what potential restrictions could come into force and how this will impact iconic whisky brands across Scotland and tourism to the country.

Meanwhile, the popularity of Scotch Whisky continues to soar as global exports grew to more than £6 billion in 2022. It’s value in the market grew by 37% and the number of 70cl bottles exported from the UK grew by 21% according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). Pre-pandemic it was recorded that over 2.16 million people visited distilleries and two thirds were from overseas visitors.

You can see how damaging potential restrictions could be on an otherwise thriving industry.

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