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Article published 20/03/2024

Responsible tourism strategy unveiled

A “hugely ambitious" new 10-year tourism strategy for the South of Scotland was launched today in Dumfries, seeking to “create Scotland’s fastest growing visitor economy”.

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.

To create the strategy we worked with four major organisations – the SSDA, South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), 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 were achieved two years early.

The South of Scotland set itself a COVID recovery plan for 2020 - 2025, aiming to establish a £750 million visitor economy and increase the associated number of jobs by 6,500. It successfully exceeded these targets two years ahead of schedule, signalling the visitor economy’s resilience and potential for growth.

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 for the South of Scotland, with a clear action plan for successful delivery.

The strategy aims to:

  • grow tourism spend by £1 billion to £1.76 billion by 2034
  • support a further 6,000 jobs in the sector, to 20,000 FTE by 2034
  • develop a year-round destination that is "go to" not "go through"
  • increase the number of higher-spending, longer-staying international visitors

SSDA Conference

The priority areas are:

The strategy sets out 22 priority areas for action, spread across four strategic objectives:

  • inspire visitors to come to the South of Scotland
  • develop the visitor experience with a focus on quality
  • support business to succeed
  • act responsibly for long-term collective benefit

Feedback on the draft strategy from businesses


felt there had been an inclusive, transparent and fair consultation in the strategy development


of respondents who inputted to the consultation felt their views are represented


saw themselves being involved in the delivery of the strategy somehow


saw themselves benefitting from the strategy

Tourism is vital to our country, creating jobs, sustaining communities and contributing significantly to the economy.

This is especially true for more rural areas like the South of Scotland, which is the gateway to our nation with so much for visitors to see and do - from the Great Tapestry of Scotland in Galashiels to the picturesque Port Logan beach near Stranraer.

The South of Scotland Tourism Strategy aligns with our national ambitions and puts in place the bedrock foundation of looking after the communities, the culture and the amazing natural heritage in this part of the country, to ensure they are here for generations to come.

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade

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