SSDA launches inclusive ‘Basic’ membership for all


Following the South of Scotland’s remarkable successes in 2023, the SSDA is excited to announce an evolution in its membership proposition for 2024.

The SSDA is keen to become the largest, most inclusive, energetic and impactful destination management and marketing organisation in Scotland.  We want our consumer-facing destination brand, ‘Scotland Starts Here’ to be benefitting every visitor economy business in the South of Scotland.

To achieve this, as of January 2024, we are creating a new ‘Basic’ membership category which is completely free of charge.  This will allow businesses and attractions of all shapes and sizes to be a part of the SSDA and ‘Scotland Starts Here’.

Businesses are listed on the ‘Scotland Starts Here’ website and app by SSDA membership tier.  So the higher the level of membership, the more visible businesses are to consumers, with Bespoke member listings always appearing first, followed by Partner Members, then Core Members and finally Basic Members.

‘Scotland Starts Here’ is the leading consumer-facing voice for tourism in the South of Scotland, with around half a million website visitors a year, a social media audience exceeding 70,000, and a reach of over 2.4 million.

The SSDA helps power the South of Scotland’s visitor economy and support its members, through:

• Our ‘Scotland Starts Here’ website and app;
• Destination positioning and promotion;
• Media engagement, including monthly press and influencer visits;
• Travel trade representation, training and engagement;
• Networking, peer support and business collaboration;
• Locally-led destination development;
B2B business support and representation;
• The largest repository of destination images of the south, for businesses to use;
Fam visits and visitor itineraries;
B2C and B2B newsletters;
and much more.


With this new 2024 ‘Basic’ membership category, everyone is able to be involved and benefit from ‘Scotland Starts Here’ and the work of the SSDA.  Those wanting to test the water can join as a Basic Member.  Those that want to have photos on their listings, increase their consumer visibility and access the image libraries, can become a Core Member for just the equivalent of 23p a day.  And those that want to supercharge their business by actively being promoted by ‘Scotland Starts Here’ and enjoy a range of premium benefits, can do so as Partner and Bespoke Members.

We are proud to be an inclusive network, with even our most enhanced membership package costing less than a coffee a day!

Learn more about member benefits at each level


David Hope-Jones OBE, CEO of the SSDA said:

“Destinations succeed when businesses work together.  

Through collaboration, partnership and collective endeavour we will transform the South of Scotland’s visitor economy: extending the season, increasing our share of international visitors and embedding quality through all our offerings.

Key to this is ensuring ‘Scotland Starts Here’ is representing and benefitting every tourism organisation in the region.  This is not the SSDA’s consumer brand, it is the South of Scotland’s it should be owned and used by every business, with all the visitor economy represented on the website and app.

By introducing the new Basic Membership category, free of charge, we are ensuring the SSDA is inclusive, welcoming, and working for all.

As with everything, the more you contribute the more you benefit, but the core principle of a free basic membership proposition, open to all in the South of Scotland, is key to the next chapter of the SSDA.”

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