Leading writer and broadcaster Simon Calder was speaking to around 200 people from across the south’s tourism sector as guest speaker at the South of Scotland Destination Alliance’s inaugural conference in Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries on Tuesday, March 15.
Mr Calder said: “More than ever, people want to slow down.
"They want to escape to the sea, the hills and crave wide open spaces with natural beauty, which are all available in abundance in the South of Scotland.”
After visiting the area last year, Mr Calder also shared suggestions for attracting more visitors, including creating interesting cross-country road trip experiences such as a route between Stranraer on the west coast of Dumfries and Galloway to St Abbs on the Berwickshire coast, and establishing a ‘Burns to Scott’ literary trail that takes travellers across the South of Scotland from Ayrshire to Dumfries to Abbotsford.
Highlighting many people’s post-pandemic concerns around going on holiday abroad and avoiding busy places, Calder said that the recipe for success for South of Scotland’s tourism businesses was to offer “experiences that create lasting memories”.
Other speakers at the event included the South of Scotland Destination Alliance’s CEO Ross McAuley, who shared his vision to elevate the south to a ‘go-to place rather than a go-through place’.
Mr McAuley said: “The people and businesses of the south have shown incredible resilience in the last two years.
"Now it’s time to come together and rise to the challenge of building the south into a year-round destination and bring tourists who stay and spend in our local communities.
Representatives from VisitScotland, Scotland Food & Drink, the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, the Southern Uplands Partnership and The South of Scotland Enterprise also spoke at the event, alongside a number of local businesses including Beirhope Alpacas from Kelso, The Plough Inn in Wigtown and Five Kingdoms Brewery at Whithorn.