The South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) is the destination management and marketing organisation for the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway. It is run by businesses for businesses.

The SSDA exists to support, develop and represent the South of Scotland’s visitor economy.   

It’s consumer-facing brand is ‘Scotland Starts Here’, with half a million website visitors, over 25,500 app users, 85,000 social media followers and a total reach of over 2.4 million.


The SSDA is a small organisation (just a handful of staff) with a big impact.  It helped bring together VisitScotland, South of Scotland Enterprise, D&G Council and Scottish Borders Council, consulting hundreds of businesses and communities through 2023, to develop the South of Scotland Responsible Tourism Strategy in 2024.  For the first time, all public agencies are fully aligned with business, in a strategy with unprecedented ambition for the region.  Together, we will increase our visitor economy by £1bn, supporting a further 6,000 jobs.

Funded by a combination of membership fees, sponsorship and a SOSE grant, the SSDA runs training, information and support services for tourism businesses across the South of Scotland. 

Through its Locally Led Destination Development work, the SSDA has divided the region into 14 areas which it meets with every six months to listen to, and act on, local priorities.  In this way, there is a high degree of local ownership as to how areas of the South of Scotland are represented to visitors and how businesses and communities are supported.

The SSDA has a key role in developing our destination.  This ranges from individual support to businesses and enterprises to help them build quality into the visitor experience, through to conceiving and developing major new propositions and visitor attractions to bring new visitors into the region.  This is about radically dialling-up our ambition as a destination and thinking innovatively and disruptively about how we can shake up the Scottish visitor experience to make the South a ‘must see’ part of Scotland.

At present, for example, the SSDA is championing the development of:

  • a game-changing new visitor attraction of international significance in Stranraer to leverage Scotland’s story of emigration;
  • the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory in the Galloway forest to leverage our dark sky status;
  • a major new attraction in the Scottish Borders leveraging our rich textile history;
  • a region-wide audio and augmented reality visitor experience, to leverage our amazing history.

Through its consumer brand, ‘Scotland Starts Here’, the SSDA runs major marketing campaigns to sell the South of Scotland, attract higher-spending visitors and extend the season.  It has a constant marketing and PR operation, hosting journalists and influencers to secure hundreds of pieces of positive national media coverage, with a reach of hundreds of millions, each year.

The SSDA is also active representing the industry with government and local government.  Through strong relationships and direct influence, it helps bring the public and private sector together in partnership and collaboration, for the benefit of all.

The SSDA also works to represent the region with the travel trade, hosting regular fam visits and Travel Trade conferences in the region, and having South of Scotland stands at all the major travel expos across the UK and beyond.


We are a small, passionate, energetic and disruptive organisation.  We believe in the South of Scotland.  We know that by thinking ambitiously, acting strategically, and working collaboratively we can, and will, transform our visitor economy.