Appleton upgrade key in gastronomy tourism push - Bartlett
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says the massive infrastructural upgrade at the Appleton Estate Visitor Centre in Siloah, St Elizabeth, will be central to the ministry's thrust to tap into the lucrative gastronomy tourism market.
Addressing tourism interests and other stakeholders at the official groundbreaking at the Appleton Estate Rum Tour facility last Friday, Bartlett said the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB)'s marketing team has been carefully studying the growing appeal of gastro tourism, pointing out that some US$23.7 billion was spent in the sector worldwide by American travellers last year alone.
He further added that Jamaica will be aggressively promoting its culinary offering in the marketplace and said attractions such as the Appleton Estate Rum Tour will be used as major "pull factors".
"We see this investment by J. Wray & Nephew and Gruppo Campari as a new statement that Jamaica is about to make to the world," Bartlett explained.
"Today we are announcing to the world that the Appleton Estate Rum Tour is going to be the centrepiece of our gastronomy arrangement for the south coast of Jamaica."
Bartlett pointed out that not only does the nearly $1 billion being invested fit perfectly into the Government's growth strategy but that it also represents "one of the most significant investments in our attractions subsector in recent months".
"This investment will not only create additional employment for persons in Siloah and neighbouring communities, but it will attract even more visitors to the south coast," he stressed.
"We welcome this venture, which will provide a considerable boost to our efforts to generate double-digit growth in the sector by promoting investment, which is one of our five pillars of tourism growth."
FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE A PLUS
And while pointing out that "there is nothing that beats authenticity", Bartlett said the new Appleton experience, which will give visitors the unique opportunity of viewing first-hand the development of rum "from cane to cup", will certainly enhance the appeal of the attraction.
For his part, chairman of J. Wray & Nephew, Clement 'Jimmy' Lawrence, said the investment showed further commitment by his company to assist in the expansion of Jamaica's tourism and to give the south coast region a pride of place among the island's resort areas.
"We are expecting this to transform the entire south coast into a major tourism hot spot," Lawrence.
"There will be the addition of modern rooms to facilitate the tasting of rum, a restaurant and lounge which will offer Appleton-infused Jamaica cuisine along with an expansive retail store. These elements will totally transform the Appleton Estate Rum Tour."
Lawrence quipped that the expansion would never be considered complete if jerked cuisine was not among the food offering.
"We are convinced that the addition of an authentic Jamaican jerk pit, which will be the showpiece of the restaurant, will create a winning combination of rum and jerk," he noted.
"Here at Appleton, you will find one of Jamaica's most renowned brands and our iconic jerk cuisine. This will certainly provide a tantalising blend of gastronomic offerings which visitors will find irresistible."