Locally Led Destination Development

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, every six months we host meetings bringing together local businesses and communities in 14 areas right across the South of Scotland.   

Upcoming 2024 meetings: 

We have set dates for Locally Led Destination Development meetings in all 14 areas of the South of Scotland for February and November.  To be as inclusive as possible, each area will have one in-person and one digital meeting. 

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 the consumer-facing ‘Scotland Starts Here’ website, 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. 


2023 Meetings

Through August - September 2023, we hosted 14 in-person Locally Led Destination Development meetings 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 - with 3,500 submissions received through these meetings  
  • 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.  

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


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.


How should we promote the South of Scotland? 

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