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JJointly hosted by the Southern African Tourism Services Association and South African Tourism, and supported by the Midlands Meander Association, the event saw representatives of 50 Midlands products showcasing their offerings to tour operators from all over South Africa.
South African Tourism and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal welcomed each representative to the platform, where they had five minutes to describe the merits of their tourism offering to a captive audience at Lythwood Lodge.
The many and varied attractions to be found along the Midlands Meander – and further afield towards the Drakensberg and Battlefields Route – were showcased in the five-minute speed-marketing format, with ample opportunity for further enquiry during tea and lunch breaks.
Tourism destinations afforded an opportunity to share their stories included conservation centres, game reserves, canopy tour operators, leather goods manufacturers, lodges, cottages, guest lodges, tour operators, tourism experience routes, country houses, art representatives, golf promoters, a school choir, adventure operators, hotels and more.
The feedback from attendees was enthusiastic and positive, with many relishing the opportunity to share their passion for tourism.
“We like to remind people that Nelson Mandela spent a night at the Old Prison in Pietermaritzburg,” said Di Milford in her presentation on the historical destination.
“We have three different properties where visitors can stay, as well as plains game and San art,” said Viranna Frank of Zulu Waters Game Reserve.
Endangered crane species are a major attraction at the Karkloof Conservation Centre, while Dragonfire Beads and Café demonstrates glass blowing and encourages visitors to try the exacting craft.
“We offer private dining under the stars,” said Andrew Attwood of Antbear Lodge, while Frank Mchunu’s broad smile and infectious enthusiasm gave an indication of the welcome that awaits visitors to the Zulu Mpophomeni Tourism Experience in Underberg.
Fresh, organic food and locally caught trout are on the menu at Lastingham Guest Lodge, while a sense of peace and relaxation at customised retreats are the focus at KhulaShanti Sanctuary.
Tour operators with clients in search of adventure were intrigued by the Dusi to Sani 4x4 expedition presentation and by the variety of activities on offer in the Montusi Gorge by All Out Adventures.
South Africa’s great tourism offering was represented at the event – from history to hotels, adventure to art, lodges to leather, food to festivals, there’s a wealth of tourist attractions to be enjoyed in this beautiful part of the country.
The day after the speed-marketing, a small group of tour operators were taken on site visits to some of the Midlands destinations, including Fordoun Hotel and Spa, Granny Mouse Country House, the Nelson Mandela Capture Site.