Don’t miss your chance to have your say on how tourism should develop in the South of Scotland

Kirkpatrick Coast to Coast in Eyemouth. (Photo: Clacks Active)

KEY agencies working on the new Responsible Tourism Strategy for the region want to hear from as many people as possible through their online survey, which closes on 15 September.

Members of the public in the South of Scotland are being urged to take part in an online survey about the area’s Regional Responsible Tourism Strategy, which is being developed collectively by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), Scottish Borders Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council and VisitScotland.

As agreed in the Delivery Plan of the South of Scotland’s Regional Economic Strategy (RES), all key agencies in the region are coming 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 five partner organisations are all working together to support the development of the strategy, which aims to ensure the South of Scotland has a sustainable, year-round tourism offer. All involved are committed to ensuring the strategy and action plan are genuinely informed by, and owned by, local businesses and communities, as well as public agencies. To achieve this, they want the process of strategy development to be as inclusive and as possible.  

Alongside a series of 27 in-person and digital meetings, being held right across the region, an online survey to inform the new Strategy and Action Plan will be live until 15 September.  The survey aims  to capture the views of people throughout the South of Scotland, from tourism and hospitality businesses to community groups, residents and other stakeholders.

The online survey is being hosted by Scottish Borders Council and runs until 15 September 2023. 

The first draft of the Strategy and Action Plan is due to be published in the autumn and a second round of (mostly digital) consultations is planned to obtain business and community feedback on this draft, before anything is finalised.

The five organisations aim to have the process complete, and the Strategy and Action Plan agreed by all parties, by the end of 2023.

David Hope-Jones OBE, South of Scotland Destination Alliance, said: “We’re really keen to hear from as many people in the South of Scotland as possible as we develop the Responsible Tourism Strategy. It’s about working collectively together, businesses and communities, to develop a sustainable, year-round tourism offering to benefit everyone who lives, works and visits here. 

“With a single Responsible Tourism Strategy, achieved through proactive outreach, open-minded consultation, and genuine collaboration, we can strengthen our visitor economy and support community prosperity. It’s about ensuring we’re all pushing in the same direction, with everyone bought into one single plan, for collective good.

“Our goal is a strategy which is owned by, and delivers for, businesses, public agencies andcommunities. So, if you haven’t already done so, please share your views and insight into the future of tourism in the South of Scotland.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of SOSE, added: “We know how important tourism is for the businesses and communities across our region and want to ensure that we grow its potential in a sustainable way.

“That is why the Responsible Tourism Strategy will be such a key tool for partners in the South.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in the future of tourism in the South to take part in the survey to help ensure the final Strategy can help support a fair and flourishing industry.”

VisitScotland Destination Development Director Gordon Smith said: “The online and in-person meetings coordinated by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance have been a great success and allowed communities and businesses the opportunity to help influence the future direction of tourism across the region.

“There is still time for communities, businesses and for people living across the South of Scotland to have their say in the development of the South of Scotland Responsible Tourism Strategy. I would urge residents and businesses to take part in the online survey before it closes on 15 September. Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of Scottish tourism and working together to find ways to position the South of Scotland as a unique and special holiday choice is essential.”

Councillor Scott Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development, said: “It is particularly important that our local tourism businesses and those that support the sector and also benefit from visitors to the area feed into this strategy.

“Through the continued collaboration of the partners involved and the input from our businesses, communities and residents we will be able to not only deliver the strategy and action plan but most importantly act upon it for the benefit of everyone across the South of Scotland.”

Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee, Councillor Ian Carruthers said: “We are very fortunate here in the South of Scotland to live in such a beautiful part of the country. We welcome tourists to our region throughout the year, but we need to know if we could do more to encourage people to visit and ensure that their stay is as happy as it can be. I would like to encourage everyone, residents and visitors to take a little time to fill in the survey and let us know your thoughts.”

Vice Chair of Economy and Resources, Councillor David Inglis said: “It is not just visitor ‘hotspots’ that we need to look at, but our stunning region as a whole, from coast to coast across the South of Scotland. Businesses also need to get involved to let us know what we could be doing to help them to encourage visitors which of course, boosts our economy. Please let us know your thoughts and ideas so that we can collaboratively plan the best way forward.”

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