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Travel vet McAuley to head south of Scotland plan

Ross McAuley, a travel and tourism specialist, who directed destination management initiatives in the Middle East, has returned home to lead the South of Scotland’s plans to support the region’s economic recovery from the impact of Covid-19.

Mr McAuley (pictured) has been appointed as the first chief executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), the body which now brings together Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders as one destination. 

He will drive forward the SSDA’s development plans, which include increasing tourism spend in the region to £1bn by 2030 and creating 6,500 jobs.

The appointment comes as the SDDA also unveils the next phase of Scotland Starts Here, its destination marketing campaign and information hub.

Mr McAuley has a strong track record in destination management and tourism having previously led ground-breaking global tourism initiatives in the Middle East including nine years at luxury hospitality brand Jumeirah Group, followed by building a global travel and tourism consultancy business.

He 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 Scottish Borders together, we’re creating a new destination with the scale to bring tourism spend to local communities, and that really excites me.”

David Ibbotson, chairman of SSDA, said: “The south has always been the poor relation to other regions in terms of awareness and visitor numbers, but now we can’t wait to show Scotland and the world the magical region we have on our doorstep.”

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