Ross set to lead south of Scotland tourism drive

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

By Kevin Janiak
Thursday, 1st April 2021, 11:57 am
Ross McAuley is the new chief executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance.
Ross McAuley is the new chief executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance.

Ross McAuley, who has 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.

He joins the SSDA team, led by project manager Jemma Reid, who brought together Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders as one destination through Scotland Starts Here, a marketing campaign and information hub featuring over 1000-member businesses, travel inspiration and experience finders.

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 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. I can’t wait to join the team and help develop a sustainable tourism strategy in a way that leads to opportunities for both businesses and communities as well as attracting investment.”

David Ibbotson, chair of SSDA, said: “This is an exciting time for SSDA. With our members and region preparing for reopening later in the spring, we’re delighted to have Ross at the helm as we embark on our next stage.

"Since forming last year, we’ve already undertaken a busy six-month programme of business events and training, putting in place a solid foundation from where we can work with members and build the right recovery programme for the south of Scotland.”