The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire region is being spotlighted as a must-visit UNESCO Biosphere for outdoor enthusiasts.

A new campaign is being launched following the region's placement on National Geographic’s Cool List 2024, urging people from central Scotland and Northwest England to experience the area's abundant nature and wildlife.

The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire (GSA) Biosphere covers almost 9,800 square kilometres and takes in large parts of South and East Ayrshire, including Ayr, Maybole, Girvan, Ballantrae, Cumnock, New Cumnock and Dalmellington.

It was designated the first UNESCO Biosphere in Scotland back in 2012.

Lynsey Eckford, regional director at VisitScotland, said: "Being named on National Geographic’s Cool List for 2024 is a fantastic opportunity for us to promote all the tremendous experiences the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere offers many different types of visitors.

"Mountain biking, kayaking, wild swimming and hiking are just some of the great activities to consider and this new campaign aims to connect with visitors, drawing on their emotions and showing them the dramatic landscapes, wildlife and historic attractions can feel like year-round."

The campaign, which will run until spring, will utilise Facebook and Instagram to direct visitors to content on

VisitScotland said the content will encourage exploration of the region’s forests, historic towns and coastlines.

Recent visitor insights from the National Tourism Organisation show that the most popular activities being planned are walking, hiking and heritage site visits, particularly during winter breaks.

Ed Forrest, director of GSA Biosphere, said: "We are delighted to be working with VisitScotland in this landmark campaign, and especially to be able to share the amazing diversity of Biosphere experiences with new visitors.

"There is truly something for everyone in this region and with a tourism offer that is founded on sustainability, everyone’s winter break can be good for people and nature alike."

The region, part of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail, was named in Rough Guides’ 24 best destinations to visit in 2024.

The trail, launched in 2021, was the first ever national UNESCO trail, encompassing all 13 of Scotland’s UNESCO-designated sites, noted for their international cultural and natural heritage value.