A NEW digital marketing campaign from the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) has already reached 200,000 people after just a couple of weeks, directing hundreds of potential holidaymakers to the websites of the 40-plus featured south of Scotland businesses.
The SSDA’s Winter Escapes campaign (https://scotlandstartshere.com/winter/) seeks to encourage more holidaymakers to visit the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway during the darker months. It’s running across the destination management and marketing organisation’s consumer-facing platform, Scotland Starts Here, and its associated social media channels until February 2023, and includes social media adverts, organic social media content and a series of blogs.
The Winter Escapes campaign was developed to support local businesses during the traditionally quieter winter months as part of the SSDA’s strategic objective to develop the region as a year-round visitor destination. It comes hot on the heels of the South of Scotland landing a highly-coveted spot in the Lonely Planet’s top 30 Best in Travel destinations for 2023.
The campaign also follows the findings of a recent SSDA ‘barometer survey’ of local tourism and hospitality businesses which revealed widespread and growing concern around increasing challenges to ‘keep the lights on’ as costs and inflation soar and consumer confidence dips.
More than 40 places and experiences across the South of Scotland are featured in Winter Escapes, including country inns with seasonal local food and drink, unforgettable activities such as dark sky tours and cosy places to stay.
Among the local gems highlighted are The Allanton Inn, a unique 18th century coaching inn in Berwickshire, and Beirhope Alpacas – also situated in the Scottish Borders – where visitors can enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Scottish Borders while walking with a friendly alpaca.
Another recommended experience is a guided walk in the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park with a specialist Dark Sky Ranger. The comfortably cosy Auldgirth Inn just under ten miles from Dumfries is the perfect place to enjoy a winter break – stunningly decorated, it’s located in an area steeped with history, close to both Ellisland Farm, where Robert Burns lived with his family.
Melanie Allen, SSDA Interim Chief Executive, said: “We’re thrilled to have shared our message about how wonderful the south of Scotland is in the winter months with nearly quarter of a million people already and I’m sure the businesses featured have seen an uptick in interest from potential visitors. Our mission is to make more people aware of the South of Scotland and encourage them to visit this beautiful part of Scotland all year round. We know from our recent barometer survey that our tourism and hospitality sectors are facing a challenging winter and our new campaign aims to support businesses and put them on the map.
“Winter is such a lovely time to visit the South of Scotland because our landscapes sparkle with shimmering frost, while our clear skies are illuminated by thousands of stars. We’re also blessed with so many cosy places to stay, winter walks for all fitness levels and abilities and some of the most breath-taking scenery you’ll find anywhere in the UK. Most of all, our people are our secret weapon – it may be only a few degrees outside, but you’re assured of a very warm welcome when you visit the South of Scotland.”
Katrina Reynolds of the Allanton Inn said: “We’re really pleased to be part of the SSDA’s Winter Escapes campaign, which is a very welcome extra boost at what’s traditionally a quieter time for businesses like ours. Winter is absolutely gorgeous in this part of the world and our guests can truly relax and unwind for a lovely, cosy stay enjoying crisp winter walks and delicious food and drink. We like to think we’re the perfect base to escape the hustle and bustle and explore this fantastic region. There’s so much history here too and visiting this little corner of the south of Scotland can feel like being you’ve been whisked back in time.”
The three-month Winter Escapes campaign also includes social media adverts, organic social media content and a series of blogs.