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MIDLANDS MEANDER GUIDE (article first published : 2004-09-16)

The Midlands Meander is one of the most successful tourism initiatives in South Africa, and is held up by SA tourism authorities as a flagship example of joint tourism marketing, while its Guide publication is regarded as an industry benchmark. International and local delegates at the annual Indaba 2004 trade fair were highly complimentary about the Midlands Meander Guide, even when measured against similar international publications.

The Midlands Meander Association has just unveiled their Guide for 2004/2005, which is even more comprehensive, bold, and distinctive.

The 2004/05 Guide has grown to 24-pages, a far cry from the single-page map that was produced in the early days of the Midlands Meander, and the print run of 250,000 units is probably the largest of any single tourism brochure in the country.

The striking new Guide, with its cover picture of hands working clay, marks a strategic return to the promotion of the arts and crafts of the Midlands Meander’s roots, when it was started by a group of artists a number of years ago. With the recognition by SA Tourism of “country routes” as one of seven holiday options in South Africa, it was felt that the arts and crafts aspect of the Midlands Meander should once again be brought to the fore, highlighting the fact that the Midlands Meander offers an unsurpassed diversity and eclectic collection of outlets and artists, quality art, galleries and studio visits, side-by-side in magnificent countryside.

The Midlands Meander Association has developed a new category of membership, called “Living Art”, to allow artists the freedom to operate within the Midlands Meander but without the necessary but often creatively stifling structures of an official tourism route. “Living Art” members can exhibit their work at galleries on the Midlands Meander, or can be seen by appointment at their own studios, enabling them to maintain creative privacy while being able, as full members, to benefit from the marketing effort of the Midlands Meander Association. This Living Art group includes both established artists and crafters who might have exhibited locally and internationally, as well as newcomers to the local art world who are often self-taught and use readily available materials for the expression of their creative energies.

The new Guide also includes other enhancements to add to the traditional Midlands Meander experience, by including information on various nature reserves, tour options, art galleries, local history and museums. The key that categorises members into Accommodation and Hospitality, Crafter, Emerging Artists or Selective Shopping and Activities has been made clearer, while the Fast Find guide has been positioned at the front of the brochure for ease-of-use. The other category lists which include Accommodation, Cuisine, Crafts and Décor, Leisure and Activities, and Hospitality have also been made easier to read, and are positioned at the back of the brochure for easy reference.

As the Midlands’ countryside is such a critical element of the total Midlands Meander experience, focus has also once again been placed on the environmental aspects of the area, with an entire page dedicated to listing the various reserves and heritage sites of the area, as well as giving contact numbers for bodies such as the Cape Parrot Working Group, the KZN Crane Foundation, Bird Life KZN and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

In addition to the well-known A3 Guide, for the second year, there are 100,000 units of the smaller DL size brochure. This year the DL version will be far more comprehensive, bringing it more inline with the Guide. As a smaller unit, it allows for a greater national distribution.

The brochures are now available at all Midlands Meander member outlets, as well as at the Midlands Meander offices at Midmar Dam, Howick and at tourism offices in Pietermaritzburg, Howick and Nottingham Road. There are also key distribution points across Gauteng and Mpumalanga, the KZN coastal regions, Southern and Northern ‘Berg, the Garden Route and the Eastern and Western Cape.

For more details contact the Midlands Meander office on 033 330 8195, e-mail: info@midlandsmeander.co.za or visit www.midlandsmeander.co.za




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