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Tourism aim unveiled for South Scotland

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By Zachary Hannay
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Tourism aim unveiled for South Scotland

A “HUGELY ambitious’ new ten-year tourism strategy for the South of Scotland has been launched.

The South of Scotland Responsible Tourism Strategy and action plan, which sets out radical plans for tourism in the region between now and 2034, was formally unveiled at the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA)’s third annual conference in Dumfries.

Hundreds of delegates from across Dumfries and Galloway and beyond packed into The Easterbrook Hall for a day of knowledge-sharing and networking last Wednesday.

Co-developed by five major organisations – the SSDA, South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), VisitScotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council – with input from hundreds of businesses, organisations and communities, the new Responsible Tourism Strategy succeeds the region’s five-year post-pandemic recovery plan, whose aims, establishing a £750m visitor economy and increasing the associated number of jobs by 6500, were achieved two years early.

As agreed in the delivery plan of the South of Scotland’s Regional Economic Strategy (RES), all key agencies in the region came together in 2023 to develop and agree a single Responsible Tourism Strategy.

This has core aims to: grow tourism spend in the South of Scotland by £1 billion to £1.76bn by 2034; and support a further 6000 jobs in the sector to 20,000 FTE by 2034.

The strategy will promote the region as a ‘rural escape’ for the 14 million people within two to four hours’ travel time, as well as emphasising the appeal of the South of Scotland as an unmissable ‘go-to’ rather than ‘go-through’ destination.

The first of three three-year action plans (2024-2027) was also shared at the conference, identifying 109 tangible actions which all public agencies hold themselves accountable for and will publicly report quarterly on the delivery of.

David Hope-Jones OBE, South of Scotland Destination Alliance CEO, said: “There is such a palpable sense of energy, excitement and ambition right across the region and our new Responsible Tourism Strategy lays down a clear marker of where we want to be by 2034 – namely, Scotland’s fastest growing visitor economy.”

Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s economy and resources committee, Cllr Ian Carruthers, added: “This is a very useful document to enable us to plan our way forward.

“All too often visitors to our region pass through, and we need this plan to encourage them to stay.”

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