How can I get involved with Scotland Starts Here?

Scotland Starts Here is the destination marketing campaign – the visitor information website, app and social channels – for the South of Scotland and is owned and run by South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA). As the Destination Marketing and Management Organisation (DMMO) for the South, SSDA champions a sustainable and strategic approach to developing the local tourism economy.

Tourism-dependent businesses, organisations and groups operating across Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders can become members of SSDA to claim a listing on Scotland Starts Here, but beyond that also have the opportunity to help shape the future of tourism in the region.

What does SSDA do?

SSDA is the Destination Marketing and Management Organisation (DMMO) for the South of Scotland. We lead the development and implementation of a tourism strategy that puts our places, communities and businesses first.

Our mission is to make the South of Scotland a leading, first-class year-round tourism destination, increasing tourism spend in the destination to £1bn by 2030 and creating and an additional 6500 jobs in the sector.

We are working to

  • Establish the South of Scotland as a top tourism destination by delivering a clear tourism strategy from coast to coast, focusing on place-making, people, digital capability and sustainability.
  • Work closely with members, industry partners, authorities and agencies on sustainable, strategic destination development planning
  • Work actively with local communities to demonstrate the value of the tourism sector and to cement its part in the place-making activity of the South of Scotland
  • Represent the needs of the tourism industry amongst local and national governments
  • Developing and connecting local suppliers to local businesses to maximise local supply chain
  • Working with education and skills partners to support the industry, inspiring future workforces and making tourism a career of choice.

Our board brings together a wide range of expertise, with representatives from Visit South West Scotland, as well as the Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership. All board members bring a wealth of local knowledge to the table, with many years experience in running independent South of Scotland tourism businesses from accommodation to visitor attractions.

SSDA is also supported by South of Scotland Enterprise Agency, VisitScotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council, and received funding from the former South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership.

What are the membership criteria, benefits and costs?

Membership of SSDA is open to all tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses and organisations, as well as industry suppliers across the South of Scotland – or even anyone who loves our region and wants to invest in its future. Membership starts from as little as £10 per month and a £30 joining fee, with discounts available for registered charities. Check the SSDA website for the full breakdown of membership categories and costs.

As a direct member, you benefit from

  • Personalised, specialist support through our Local Area Development Agents
  • Promotion through the Scotland Starts Here campaign, including a listing on its visitor information website and app. Members can also get involved with additional marketing activities, including social media and e-newsletters.
  • Exclusive marketing and PR opportunities with SSDA and its partners
  • Representation of the interests and needs of the tourism industry across the South of Scotland among local and national Government
  • Research and insights, ranging from performance and Covid-19 recovery overviews to audience insights
  • Workshops and seminars, such as product development sessions, travel trade workshops, and digital skills training
  • Networking with like minded local businesses, suppliers and trade

How do I become a member?

Those interested in working with SSDA can find membership signup forms on the SSDA website. Once completed, your Local Area Development Agent will be in touch to go through the next steps. If you are unsure if membership is right for you, get in touch with our team who will be happy to chat through options. You can also send us a general enquiry with any questions you may have about SSDA.