However, many holidaymakers are currently unaware of what the ‘untapped’ region has to offer.
A survey of more than 3400 people across the UK found the South of Scotland has many of the attractions that draw crowds to such tourist hotspots as the Cornwall and the Cotswolds – but they are effectively hidden gems just now.
The research was commissioned by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), which has been set up to attract more holidaymakers to the region.
And based on the study the SSDA has identified a group called ‘metropolitan adventurers’, a target market worth £2.1 billion, that it believes can enjoy the holidays of their dreams here.
Metropolitan adventurers are described as an affluent group who prefer short, quick breaks to switch off from day-to-day life. They like outdoor activities, walking, culture and heritage, generally spending time in nature – all within their reach in the South of Scotland.
Ross McAuley, right, chief executive of the SSDA, said: “People who know the south of Scotland are well aware of its wealth of attractions, but our new research has shown that many holidaymakers, from day-trippers to tourists from across the globe, are missing out on its hidden gems. The area has some of the most stunning beaches and coastline in the world, fantastic food and drink, including seafood and locally produced whisky and gin, top-class mountain bike and running trails and cultural centres – to name just a few attractions. We believe the south of Scotland has everything, and more, that draws crowds to the likes of Cornwall, the Cotswolds, the Lake District and parts of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, but with the added advantage of the peace and quiet to take it all in.
“The research shows that metropolitan adventurers would love what the south of Scotland has to offer, including being able to switch off from the day-to-day, with a focus on sustainability.
“We’ll be looking at how we can attract more of these holidaymakers to our region which we see as potentially the next Cornwall when it comes to desirable destinations.”
He believes a ‘concerted effort’ is needed to debunk the myths that Scotland is just about Edinburgh and the Highlands, adding: “In the south, visitors can enjoy Scotland in microcosm, while avoiding the growing problem of over-tourism that faces some of the UK’s best known beauty spots, such as Cornwall.
“We’ll continue our drive to tell holidaymakers about what is on offer and promote the message that ‘Scotland Starts Here’.”