Responsible Tourism Strategy


Following extensive consultation, the SSDA, VisitScotland, South of Scotland Enterprise, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council and all relevant public bodies have together launched a ten-year South of Scotland Responsible Tourism Strategy (2024-34), which will:

Increase our visitor economy by £1 billion, to £1.76bn by 2034.

Support a further 6,000+ jobs, to 20,000 FTE posts by 2034.


The Responsible Tourism Strategy is an integral part of the overarching Regional Economic Strategy and has been formally welcomed and endorsed by the Scottish Government and all public agencies at the Convention of the South of Scotland. 

It sets out how, together, we will transform our visitor economy by:

  1. extending the season and developing the South of Scotland as a year-round ‘rural escape’ destination for the 14m people within 2-4 hours travel time
  2. becoming a ‘go to’ rather than a ‘go through’ destination
  3. increasing international visitor numbers, who spend significantly more and stay longer than domestic visitors.


22 key areas of work are identified in the strategy, across four strands:

  1. Inspire visitors to come to the South of Scotland
  2. Develop the visitor experience, with a focus on quality
  3. Support business to succeed
  4. Act responsibly for long-term collective benefit

2024-27 Action Plan

Behind the Strategy is a detailed three-year (2024-27) Action Plan.  For each of the 109 actions identified, the Action Plan states:

  • which organisation has lead responsibility for delivery and which others are supporting
  • how these actions will be delivered
  • what indicative timescales will be followed
  • what, together, we aim to have achieved by 2027


This Action Plan is a dynamic document.  The delivery partners will report quarterly on what has been achieved and consult annually on how the Action Plan should be updated to remain relevant and impactful.

The Consultation Process

The Strategy came directly out of an inclusive, transparent and far-reaching consultation process, involving hundreds of businesses, communities and key individuals, with: 14 in-person meetings across the region (receiving over 3,500 data submissions), 13 digital thematic meetings, 20 deep-dive one-to-one meetings, visitor sentiment tracking, an open online consultation, two meetings of the Regional Economic Partnership, and extensive business engagement.

In keeping with our commitment to transparency, we are delighted to share the input we received through these consultations, including:


The Drafting Process

Following the consultations, the five partner agencies (SSDA, SOSE, VS, DGC, SBC) then had an independent expert collate all input from the consultations and make formal recommendations from this data, which informed an initial draft of the strategy.

This first draft was taken to: the Strategy Advisory Group, made up of key stakeholders and industry representatives; a further group of elected business leaders; and then the Regional Economic Partnership.

Encouragingly, the consistent steer from all was to ‘dial up the ambition’!

With these steers, an updated second draft was written, with increased ambition, vision and leadership for the South of Scotland. This second draft was published at the start of 2024 and there was a final public consultation on this text.

This final consultation on the draft text included: 14 in-person Locally Led Destination Development meetings across the South of Scotland bringing together local businesses, an online survey, digital meetings, and briefings for all Councillors and key Board members.  In this way, businesses, communities and key partners were able to give their feedback and make suggestions on how the text could be improved.

Final edits were made, informed by the 205 suggestions received but, overwhelming, the draft text was warmly welcomed by those who fedback.


Businesses and communities have given strong support for the Responsible Tourism Strategy.   Of those who have given feedback:

  • 84% felt there has been an inclusive, transparent and fair consultation
  • 93% felt the views they shared in the consultation are represented in the strategy
  • 95% saw themselves being involved in the delivery of the strategy
  • 97% saw themselves benefitting from the strategy

 This hugely positive feedback is crucial because it cannot just be a public sector strategy.  In chairing the 27 consultation meetings, the SSDA said throughout that if when a full draft strategy was shared, it didn’t have resounding support from businesses then the whole process would be stopped and we would start again from scratch until we had a plan that inspired the public, private and third sector.

 Now we have a clear, compelling and ambitious strategy, which everyone is bought into and will benefit from, it’s just a matter of getting stuck in and starting to deliver.

 We will, together, make the South of Scotland the most sustainable, talked about, successful, energetic, and coveted destination in Scotland.  Because #ScotlandStartsHere.

Join us on this journey.


The South of Scotland Responsible Tourism Strategy was launched at the SSDA's 2024 Annual Conference on the 20th March 2024.  All relevant public agencies joined c200 businesses from across the region for a full day structured around the four strands of the strategy, bringing the document to life and ensuring everyone was bought-in to its delivery.

At the launch, 97% of the businesses and partners attending say they supported the new Responsible Tourism Strategy, with 84% saying they "strongly supported" the strategy.

Delivery and Public reporting

Now the Strategy is launched, the real work begins!
The SSDA, SOSE, VS, DGC, SBC meet every week to drive forwards delivery against the 122 actions of the Strategy.  Together, we are committed to publishing brief quarterly progress reports for the next ten years, as well as more detailed annual reports and externally produced triennial reports, to ensure we continue to be transparent and accountable for delivering on the unprecedented ambition we have set for the South of Scotland’s visitor economy.
The first quarterly update, covering 20th March to 20th June 2024, was published on the 5th July (it's release had to be slightly delayed due to the UK General Election).

Quarterly Report #1 (20th March - 20th June 2024)