A MAJOR new tourism drive raced into action last week in a bid to convince visitors to venture south of the capital.

A new travel-inspiring website was launched along with a new app, social media campaign and blog to promote both the Scottish Borders and Midlothian.

Scotland Starts Here aims to raise the area’s profile as a year-round tourism destination .

The campaign showcases that Scotland’s identity and soul were born in both the Borders and neighbouring Midlothian.

Scotland Starts Here has been developed by the Midlothian Borders Tourism Action Group on behalf of the Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership and Midlothian Tourism Forum.

Midlothian Borders Tourism Action Group project manager Jemma Reid told us: “For many people travelling to Scotland, the Scottish Borders and Midlothian is where their very first experiences, touch-points and memories of Scotland are forged.

"The launch plays to this and celebrates the unique history and cultural experiences that our region has to offer.

"We are easily one of the most accessible, most breathtaking and exciting parts of Scotland and we are thrilled that we can now showcase this to the max and through working with local businesses we can take the Scottish Borders and Midlothian to the world. 2020 is the start of some big things for our local tourism industry.”

Aimed at visitors from the UK, Europe and international markets, the campaign focuses on the four key themes of Hidden Wonders, Active and Outdoors, Food and Drink, and History and Heritage.

By putting a spotlight on authentic local experiences and award-winning products and businesses, it will increase potential visitors’ awareness of what the area has to offer for short breaks and holidays.

VisitScotland regional director Neil Christison said: “Scotland Starts Here is an exciting campaign that will promote the wealth of fantastic experiences on offer in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian and bring to life the stories and people that make the area unique.

"I would encourage the local industry to get involved in the campaign and help spread the word about the fantastic area where they live and work to visitors at home and abroad."

Over the past three years, the Midlothian Borders Tourism Action Group has engaged over 800 businesses in workshops, training and product development to make them more tourism ready.

And many of them were in attendance for last week's launch at the National Mining Museum of Scotland.