SSDA Team Update
Jemma Reid – Project Manager
It has been a very busy month indeed. We are moving at an extraordinary pace at SSDA. I am delighted to have seen so many familiar and new faces on our recent series of introduction webinars to launch SSDA, the new DMMO for the South of Scotland to you as tourism businesses. I am thrilled to have such a wonderful team in place working with me now and they are excited and eager to meet you all in person over the coming months. You can read more on what they have been up to below. In addition to these webinars I have been engaging and meeting with tourism groups across the South of Scotland as well as setting up new events and opportunities for our destination and a programme plan of activity. I have been working with our creative agency and web / app developer on the integration of Scotland Starts Here into Dumfries & Galloway. Exciting times. Given the unprecedented times that Covid bring, I have also been engaging with our key stakeholders, industry partners and Scottish Government parties representing our destination with our Board. We have huge ambition and passion for the South of Scotland, and we will make this a leading and first-class tourism destination by working together. So, I can only encourage each and everyone of you to get in touch with us. Let’s use the next 6 months and get ready to shine. I even managed a wee staycation over half term with my family to explore Dumfries & Galloway to familiarise myself with all the amazing product in the South West. Here are some pictures… Fantastic family destination.
Yvonne Wagoun - Travel Trade Specialist
I have recently visited Dumfries and Galloway on a familiarisation trip to explore the region and understand and engage with great product that would be suitable for the travel trade. I had such an amazing time. I am still talking to everybody about the beautiful land and seascapes I discovered and explored. Now, again desk bound, I am busy working on the details for the travel trade workshops we are running in December as well as doing online webinars to train tour operators on fantastic South of Scotland product we have. In addition to this we as a team are working on new content / tools and itineraries for the travel trade which will enable me to promote the destination to a National and International audience.
Lesley Watson - Development Agent - West
The first few months have been a whirlwind! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet everyone virtually through the Welcome webinars and workshops and really started to research everything that is on offer in the West. I am now enjoying having 1:1 meetings with local businesses and starting to build positive relationship with local community groups, Development Trusts, and individual businesses. I have been working with local groups and individuals to help gather information on the History and Heritage points of interest within D&G for the Scotland Starts Here website and app in addition to keeping the SSDA social media pages up to date. Over the last few weeks, I have been meeting with businesses from Kirkcudbright, Moffat and Kippford and I look forward to building more positive relationships and supporting more businesses across the West over the next few months.
Gowan Miller - Development Agent - Central
The 1st month here at SSDA has flown by and it is really exciting dynamic team to be part of. There is a lot going on the background to lay the groundwork. I have been looking at systems that will help us keep track of all our activity as well as pulling together directories of food & drink and service suppliers to improve our local supply chain. It has been great starting to meet (virtually or in-person) some of you, from community groups to individual business owners. Once I have returned from my holiday near Castle Douglas (out exploring new grounds) I will get out to see many more of you. It has been great to catch up with a few businesses while I am here, as well as exploring this amazing part of the South of Scotland.
Sarah Macdonald - Development Agent - East
It has been a fantastic couple of months getting to know the team and engaging with some the fabulous tourism business in the East. There have been lots of virtual introductions with groups and individual businesses, zoom meetings and phone calls. However, nothing can beat going out and about and visiting some of the businesses! I have spent some invaluable time in and around St Abbs, Kelso and Jedburgh and it has already provided a handful of wonderful experiences from Alpacas to Championship Golf Courses, not to mention pumpkin patches and award-winning accommodation. When not out and about, I am working on lists of suppliers which will support businesses as they develop, and I am also currently compiling a list of what the visitor can do over the winter. If you are open, let me know and we will share.
Marianne Bailey - Development Agent and Project Coordinator
As my family at Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping gather the wood off the hill for the winter ahead (Charlie the dog is extremely helpful with this yearly task!) I have been gathering a rich collection of themed itineraries to thread together the innate stories of our South of Scotland region and champion the diverse experiences that can be had here, ready to be platformed through the Scotland Starts Here website and app. It is fantastic to start delving in and really get to know the businesses and the people behind them and the common goals through a host of engaging SSDA Webinars, workshops, discussions and research, what a lot we have to be proud of! As we forge the path of considerable opportunity that SSDA’s formation provides through these challenging times, I have also been taking a fresh look at how insight into the values and behaviours of our evolving visitor demographics, particularly families and young people, can inform our future success as a destination. I’m starting to explore how to use innovative technologies to enhance our efficiency and business foresight going forward as well as how best to locally develop the skills that will deliver customer experience excellence in our region. I’ll be pulling together case studies of local businesses trail-blazing in innovative ways, ideas for product development and collaborative working opportunities ... more on all this to come!