Why we believe in local

The SSDA is committed to a locally-led, bottom-up approach to developing the South of Scotland as a world class visitor destination.   

We want to harness the power, impact and scale of a ‘pan-South’ approach as we market the South of Scotland to the world, but we also want to work at a local level within the South of Scotland, to really listen to, engage, support and represent businesses and communities in locally relevant ways. 

To achieve this, through August and September 2023, we hosted 14 in-person meetings, bringing together local businesses and communities in 14 areas right across the South of Scotland.  This was supplemented by a further 13 digital meetings, looking at specific sectors/themes. 

Our 14 in-person meetings allowed local businesses to:  

  • Feed into the development of the South of Scotland’s Responsible Tourism Strategy which will underpin the work of all related agencies for the next decade. 
  • Feed into a major SSDA seasonality marketing campaign, to extend the visitor season.   
  • Decide how the local area should be marketed by the SSDA, including on the ‘Scotland Starts Here’ website and app, and in newly commissioned short promotional films about each of thee 14 local areas, paid for by the SSDA, which all local businesses can use. 
  • Agree how to raise awareness locally of the ‘Scotland Starts Here’ brand and assets, so it supports local businesses.  
  • Agree actionable points which the SSDA can advance in the next six months to meaningfully support local businesses
  • Share and build new local collaborations between local businesses. 

What we heard locally.

We were delighted to have 3,500 submissions overall on Menti across these 14 in-person meetings, as well as really insightful discussions between businesses

Click the below links to read the full notes from each of the 14 in-person meetings: 

How should we promote the South of Scotland? 

We asked local businesses and communities what words describe their local area, see the results here



Local Priorities

What local priorities do you want the SSDA to support? 

At the end of the meeting, we asked those attending what ELSE we could practically do to support the local visitor economy.  Almost 100 local priorities were identified across the 14 areas. We hold ourselves accountable to taking practical steps in the coming months to move as many of these priorities forwards.


What we are doing next

Given the positive feedback from these meetings and this Locally Led Destination Development approach, we have committed to continuing these discussions, with two further meetings in all 14 areas (February and November), one in-person and one digital. 

Below are the proposed dates for 2024 (full details to follow): 

Locally Led Destination Meetings 2024

Area  Autumn 2023 (All in person)  Spring 2024  Autumn 2024 
Annandale (inc Gretna Moffat, Lockerbie, etc)  17th Aug, 18:00 - 20:00, In person.  27th Feb, 10:00 - 12:00, In person.  28th Nov, 10:00 - 11:30, Online. 
Berwickshire Coast  22nd Aug, 18:00 - 21:00, In person.  22nd Feb, 13:30 - 15:00, Online  20th Nov, 10:00 - 12:00, In person. 
Dumfries  15th Aug, 11:30 - 14:30, In person.  7th Feb, 10:00 - 11:30, Online  5th, Nov 10:00 - 12:00, In person. 
Duns, Lauder & Lammermuirs  22nd Aug, 12:00 - 14:00, In person.  13th Feb, 10:00 - 12:00, In person.  12th Nov, 10:00 - 11:30, Online 
Galashiels, Earlston Leaderdale and Melrose  9th Aug, 11:30 - 14:30, In person.  7th Feb, 13:30 - 15:00, Online  7th Nov, 10:00 - 12:00, In person. 
Galloway  10th Aug, 18:00 - 21:00, In person.  21st Feb, 10:30 - 12:30, In person.  21st Nov, 10:00 - 11:30, Online 
Hawick, Denholm Newcastleton, Langholm & Eskdale  31st Aug, 11:30 - 14:30, In person.  1st Feb, 10:00 - 12:00, In person.  6th Nov, 10:00- 11:30, Online 
Kelso, Jedburgh and Districts / Roxburghshire  16th Aug, 18:00 - 20:00, In person.  20th Feb, 10:00 - 12:00, In person.  27th Nov, 10:00 - 11:30, Online 
Selkirkshire  29th Aug, 16:00 - 18:00, In person.  8th Feb, 10:00 - 12:00, In person.  30th Oct, 10:00 - 11:30, Online
Solway Firth & Coast  10th Aug, 18:00 - 21:00, In person.  15th Feb, 13:00 - 15:00, In person.  26th Nov, 10:00 - 11:30, Online 
Stranraer & the Rhins of Galloway  7th Sep, 11:30 - 13:30, In person.  14th Feb, 10:00 - 11:30, Online  13th Nov, 12:30 - 14:30, In person. 
Tweeddale / Peeblesshire  5th Sep, 18:00 - 20:00, In person.  6th Feb, 10:00 - 11:30, Online  19th Nov, 10:00 - 12:00, In person. 
Upper and Mid Nithsdale  30th Aug, 18:00 - 20:00, In person.  6th Feb, 13:30 - 15:00, Online  29th Oct, 10:00 - 12:00, In person. 
The Machars  6th Sep, 18:00 - 20:00, In person.  22nd  Feb, 10:00 - 11:30, Online  14th Nov, 09:30 - 11:30, In person. 

We recognise that, while listening to local businesses is important, the SSDA’s real value is in getting things done and demonstrably delivering on local priorities.  We therefore want to be clear that at the February 2024 meeting we will: 

  1. Present the South of Scotland Responsible Tourism Strategy, highlighting which specific points made locally have directly fed into the strategy, and developing a local plan of how to work with and benefit from this new strategy and united approach. 
  2. Go through the local priorities identified at the last meeting and update on what specific actions the SSDA has taken to advance these priorities. 
  3. Present on the SSDA’s £60k+ Seasonality Campaign, showing how local input fed into its design and delivery, going through the results so far, and showing how businesses can continue to get involved. 
  4. Present the new webpage on consumer-facing the ‘Scotland Starts Here’ website and app, about the local area, highlighting how points made in the last meeting fed into how the area is represented, and giving local control on an on-going basis for the content of this page. 
  5. Update on the production of a 60-90 second promotional video about that area, informed by local input at the last meeting, which will be freely available for all to use. 
  6. Further advance plans to raise awareness locally of the ‘Scotland Starts Here’ brand and assets, so it works for local businesses. 
  7. Review local collaborations which have developed since the last meeting and agree how best to promote and support these.