Bold ambition to attract tourists to the south of Scotland

The South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) has appointed its first chief executive and unveiled a new look Scotland Starts Here campaign.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 4:38 pm
Ross McAuley has become SSDA's first chief executive

Ross McAuley, a Scot with more than 20 years international commercial, entrepreneurial and marketing experience, will take on the leadership role in May.

In addition to driving forward the SSDA’s ambitious destination development plans, which include increasing tourism spend in the region to £1bn by 2030 and creating 6,500 new jobs, he will oversee the SSDA’s commitment to enabling the region’s tourism and hospitality industry to recover and flourish in the wake of Covid-19.

Ross has a strong track record in destination management and tourism having previously led ground-breaking global tourism initiatives in the Middle East including nine years at luxury hospitality brand Jumeirah Group, followed by building a successful global travel and tourism consultancy business.

He joins the SSDA team, led by project manager Jemma Reid, who has brought together Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders as one destination through Scotland Starts Here, a marketing campaign and information hub for all those looking to discover the very best the South of Scotland has to offer.

Now featuring over 1000-member businesses, travel inspiration and experience finders, this campaign signals a pivotal phase of SSDA’s marketing and product development activity.

Ross said: “The south is the hidden gem of Scotland, overlooked in the past as a destination but with a proud history, stunning landscape, great people and enormous potential to engage and inspire.

"By bringing Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders together, we’re creating a new destination with the scale to bring tourism spend to local communities, and that really excites me.

“Clearly, the impact of Covid-19 has been felt far and wide through local businesses and communities while at the same time completely disrupting the travel market.

"However, I believe that tourism will bounce back strongly - and Scotland Starts Here is our first step on that journey taking the south of Scotland to new audiences.”