If you want to know where to holiday in Southern Scotland just ask TA-M the robot tourist guide

A specially designed roving robot called TA-M has been exploring the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway as part of a mission to encourage more holidaymakers to visit.

From visiting the beach at Coldingham Bay in Berwickshire to being fitted for some fetching knitwear at Johnston’s of Elgin in Hawick and taking in the view from historic Bruce’s Stone at Loch Trool, TA-M (The South of Scotland Adventure-Module) has been roving aroundseeking out interesting landmarks, locals and experiences.

Inspired by NASA’s robot geologists and their missions to Mars, TA-M has been created to uncover everything the region across the foot of Scotland has to offer.

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The hi-tech tour guide’s investigations into holidaying in the South of Scotland have been captured on TA-M Cam to be reported back to holidaymakers seeking out new and undiscovered destinations.

Historic spot: TA-M at Bruce's Stone overlooking Loch Trool

The roving robot is spearheading a new ‘Curiosity Starts Here’ marketing campaign launched by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) to showcase the myriad attractions of the area and cash-in on an estimated £2.1bn in unspent tourist expenditure.

TA-M features robotic arms that can lift and grip objects, ‘expressive eyebrows’, all-terrain wheels, dilating iris eyes with LED lights, 3D printed body parts and solar panels to recharge in the sun.

Ross McAuley, chief executive of the SSDA, said: “The South of Scotland is arguably one of the most unspoilt and stunningly beautiful parts of the UK. There’s so much to see, do and explore in the region – it’s one of the few parts of the country you can still truly discover. The area offers stunning beaches and coastline, delicious local food and drink, fascinating history and heritage, adventurous activities and a wealth of nature and wildlife.

“I believe the South of Scotland could be the best sustainable tourism destination in the UK, with the added advantage of the peace and quiet to take it all in and escape the crowds. Our focus is on encouraging sustainable and manageable growth in tourism. We aim to support the local economy and communities across the region.”

Using the same NASA-style tech that allows the Mars Rover to travel about the Red Planet, TA-M was able to tackle the beach at Coldingham Bay on the Berwickshire coast Pic: Duncan Ireland

Mairi Gougeon, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, said: “Tourism is vital to the Scottish economy, especially in our more rural areas, such as the South of Scotland. As we emerge from the pandemic, we have to do all we can to support our rural businesses, and attracting visitors is more important than ever. I welcome the ‘Curiosity Starts Here’ Campaign, including the innovative robot T-AM, and I’m sure it will help put the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway firmly on the map.”

Annique Armstrong, VisitScotland’s interim Regional Director said: “The South of Scotland is a beautiful part of the country offering a diverse range of experiences for visitors. With its stunning coastline, unspoiled landscape, fantastic food and drink and exciting festivals and events, this unique campaign will help open up the region to new audiences.

“This campaign will provide a boost to local tourism businesses and support the recovery of this vital part of Scotland’s economy.”

Mr McAuley added: “We believe metropolitan adventurers, and many others, can enjoy the holidays of their dreams in our largely untapped region. We’re confident TA-M will help spread the word that ‘Curiosity Starts Here’ in the South of Scotland.”

Take me to your leader: TA-M encounters a fold of Belted Galloway cattle
No inside league measurement needed for TA-M as he gets kitted out at Johnstons of Elgin in Hawick Pic: Duncan Ireland
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