US$7.2M being invested to upgrade Appleton Rum Tour
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has welcomed as timely a US$7.2-million investment that will make the long-established Appleton Estate Rum Tour the gateway for tourism on Jamaica's South Coast.
Bartlett was among those involved in breaking ground for the Appleton Estate Visitor's Centre which, on completion, will be a showpiece surrounded by fields of sugar cane and the home of Appleton, one of the world's top rum brands.
He said he was particularly pleased that the project was being undertaken in an area of Jamaica where investments of that magnitude have not been a common feature, and he saw it as "the beginning of a new chapter in employment opportunities for a large number of people in the Siloah, Appleton and Maggoty area".
Appleton Estate is owned by J. Wray & Nephew, a subsidiary of Gruppo Campari. J. Wray and Nephew Chairman Clement 'Jimmy' Lawrence noted that the upgrade will provide "a unique visitor experience". It will involve upgrading of the existing facility and its expansion by another 25,000 square feet by October 2017.
The main building will be the welcome centre with a theatre, luxury bar, five-star restaurant and other amenities which visitors can use before the tour of the estate's distillery and its ageing warehouses, according to a release from the Ministry of Tourism.
It added that it is highly anticipated that the rail service, which ground to a halt many years ago, will be rolling again in 2017, or shortly thereafter, and form an integral part of the plan to more than double the 50,000 visitors who currently take the Appleton Rum Tour.
Bartlett lauded Wray and Nephew for "going beyond manufacturing to expanding the range of offerings that Jamaica provides as a destination and helping to make us a much desired place that people want to visit".
A COMPLETE OFFERING
Noting that food and music will attract visitors, the minister said "you have a complete offering here that will excite everyone who wants to come to Jamaica and within that frame, will encapsulate all that a visitor needs when he gets into a destination".
With the inclusion of a state-of-the-art restaurant, Bartlett said "we see this as a bold statement that Jamaica is about to make to the world as a centre of gastronomy".
The ministry noted that work is progressing on the newly formed Gastronomy Network to, among other things, create a gastronomy mapping platform with easily accessible information on the best food offerings islandwide, and foster the development of food tours across the country, including elements of food preparation, and building out festivals as a product for gastronomy tourism. The Appleton Rum Tour will be the centrepiece of that gastronomy arrangement for the south coast.
Bartlett implored Appleton to aim for a level of increase in visitors to the attraction a beyond its own projection, "because we are growing the industry at a rate that will enable you to do that. Cruise is going to grow exponentially and you must prepare yourself for the post-2017 arrival of the Appleton train again. And you must prepare yourself for the expansion of the highway within these areas that is going to create connectivity in this Appleton area through Accompong and back into Montego Bay".