Head South – South of Scotland included in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023

The South of Scotland has been named as one of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel destinations for 2023.


The publication revealed that the region, which covers the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, is one of only two UK destinations and 30 worldwide to make the annual list.

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 draws on expert local perspectives with the aim of helping travellers to discover a destination in the way most meaningful to them.

The South of Scotland has been named in the Learn category, alongside Manchester, New Mexico, Dresden, El Salvador and Marseille. The region’s history and culture make it the ideal place for delving into the past to learn more about iconic figures such as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott.

The other categories are: Eat, Journey, Unwind and Connect.


Responding to the South of Scotland’s inclusion in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023, Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said: “Scotland is one of the world’s most iconic destinations with diverse and varied regions to be explored. The inclusion of the South of Scotland in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023, only highlights this rich diversity.

“This recognition will put the South of Scotland on the map for more foreign and domestic visitors and encourage them to stay longer and spend more as they sustainably explore and discover the region’s historical, cultural and natural attractions. This will contribute to supporting the recovery of the tourism and hospitality sector.”  


Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said:There are a wealth of fantastic experiences, stunning scenery and natural assets to discover in the South of Scotland, from its dark skies that make it the ideal location for star gazing to its breath-taking coastline and world-renowned walking and cycling routes. 

“Scotland’s history, heritage and culture is what defines the country for many people, and one of the top reasons for visiting. The South of Scotland has close ties to some of our country’s most iconic literary figures and is home to many historical assets and attractions that offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about our fascinating country by delving into the past.

“To be included in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 guide is a fantastic accolade for the South of Scotland and will help provide a welcome boost to the recovery of our valuable tourism industry by connecting with visitors from across the world and encourage them to explore the region more widely.

“Tourism is a force for good. It creates jobs, sustains communities and contributes significantly to the economy.”


Melanie Allen, Interim Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance and member of the newly-created Scottish Tourism Industry Leadership Group, said: “To be included in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 guide is a momentous accolade for the south of Scotland, particularly as the region is the perfect place to immerse yourself amongst the history and culture of our stunning places, landscapes and wide open spaces. This news will be an enormous boost to our tourism and hospitality sectors, we are working closely with businesses and communities to showcase the very best of the region through our regional brand: Scotland Starts Here

“And what better year for the south of Scotland to capture the world’s attention than 2023, when we’re set to launch our incredible Coast to Coast cycle route, linking through sustainable travel, from Stranraer in the west with Eyemouth in the east.  I am sure that with our warm hospitality, the South of Scotland will become a magnet for visitors who wish to stay a while to experience and learn about our fascinating heritage with some of the most fabulous places to eat and drink that Scotland has to offer.”


Professor Russel Griggs, South of Scotland Enterprise’s Chair, said: “It is no surprise to those of us who live and work in the South of Scotland to see our fantastic region included in the internationally recognised Lonely Planet travel guide.

“While it continues to be a difficult time for the tourism industry, accolades such as this highlight the strength of the South of Scotland as a destination which offers so much to visitors.

“There are a huge number of exciting events coming up in 2023, and working alongside our local and national partners, we are optimistic that the South of Scotland can attract even more visitors to stay, spend and enjoy our wonderful region.”


Councillor Scott Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development, said: “For our region to be one of just thirty worldwide destinations included in this renowned publication is recognition of the many top class attractions we have here, including those that take visitors on a journey of discovery into our past and our people such as the five-star Great Tapestry of Scotland in Galashiels.

“Of course it is not just about our history though – visitors can learn about the production of lowland malt whisky at The Borders Distillery, or see how world-class cashmere is designed and made in various mills across the Borders, and all the while enjoying the incredible scenery of the Scottish Borders.

“I have no doubt that this recognition will help drive more tourists to explore the Borders, and that is hugely important as our local businesses and the economy continue to recover following the Covid-19 pandemic.”


Cllr Stephen Thompson, Co-Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council: “This is very good news for the South West of Scotland and testament to the positive approach to partnership working with other local authorities and partner agencies in recent years. Our administration is committed to continuing this work to stay on the worldwide visitor map and in contention for special awards like this in the future.”


Cllr Linda Dorward, Co-Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council: “To win an award such as this and be on a holiday award destination list with the likes of Lima and Marseille is fabulous. The South of Scotland really is a destination that we should be proud of, and winning this award will benefit the local economy of both in the short and long term.”


For more information visit: www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel   or www.visitscotland.org

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