SDMA membership is available to full-time companies of all sizes based in Scotland which have been trading for a minimum of two years and whose Managing Director / Proprietor / Owner has had at least two years' experience in managing ground handling / tour operating arrangements for incoming and/or domestic groups and individuals to Scotland.
The SDMA was set up in 1990 to represent the views of Incoming & Domestic Tour Operators and Destination Management Companies who are based in Scotland. Our members cover the widest spectrum of the Scottish Travel Trade, from large wholesalers whose focus is on international groups, large and small operators in the day tour and small groups market, specialist tour guiding operations, and FIT / tailor made tour operators who target UK and international consumers directly.
We are recognised by both VisitScotland and the Scottish Government as the official industry tour operator DMC trade association. As such we have a seat on the council of the Scottish Tourism Alliance. We also have a dedicated senior contact manager at VisitScotland. Members automatically qualify for member rates to attend any Scottish Tourism Alliance event.
We hold meetings usually three times per year, with the format and locations planned to encourage informal networking and improve or update product knowledge. We also distribute industry and trade information and share news and issues informally throughout the year and through a private Facebook page.
Membership enquiries are very welcome, please just ask.
Our very reasonable membership fee is agreed annually at our AGM. In addition there is a small one-off "joining fee" to cover costs such as adding a member's details to the website and we ask members to sign a "Code of Conduct" on joining.
A main consideration for tour operators when selling a package to the general public is The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.
One of the responsibilities of the travel industry is the need to provide financial failure protection for passengers’ holiday payments prior to, and up to, the completion of a package holiday in the event of the financial failure of the organiser. This can be achieved by bonding, financial failure insurance or trust account.
Information is available from the gov.uk website, Trading Standards have a guide to travel law, and other organisations such as The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT) and ABTA have useful information.
We are happy to offer a few suggestions for specialist travel insurance brokers that prospective new members might like to approach regarding financial protection.
There are various travel law firms who specialise in working with travel companies of all sizes, including mb Law and Travlaw (of course feel free to consult with any other travel law expert).
Guidance about The Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) is available from:
Information about practical travel law from Trading Standards:
Tour operators must/should have various insurances in place including Employers' Liability Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance which would normally be included in a Tour Operator Combined Liability Insurance policy, and vehicle insurance if appropriate, etc.
We are happy to offer some suggestions for travel insurance brokers that prospective new members might like to approach regarding Tour Operator Combined Liability Insurance (of course others are available and quite often they will each approach the same underwriters).
Tour operators will almost certainly need to operate the Tour Operators Margin Scheme (TOMS) for VAT. TOMS is a subject full of interest, even for HMRC. There are specialist accountants, much information and various interpretations.
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tour-operators-margin-scheme-for-vat-notice-7095 (Please check this is the most up to date guidance.)
As well as the HMRC site and sites such as ABTA and elsewhere, a couple of websites with helpful information are:
The current Office Bearers of the Scottish Destination Management Association are:
- Chair – Russell Murray (Wilderness Group)
- Vice Chair - Graeme Ward (Radical Travel Group)
- Treasurer – Douglas Hart (Hart Holidays)
Office Bearers are nominated on an annual basis at the AGM.
We look forward to hearing from you and offering any help we can.
You can sign up for VisitScotland and Scottish Tourism Alliance travel industry newsletters at the following links.