The $1 billion renovation at the Appleton Estate Visitor Centre in Siloah, St Elizabeth, is being hailed as a potential game changer for tourism on the island's south Coast.
As J. Wray and Nephew and its parent company, Gruppo Campari, broke ground for a new facility last Friday, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, the keynote speaker at the historic event, commended the investors for both their continued commitment to the tourism sector and also to south coast residents, many of whom will benefit significantly from the investment.
"The Appleton Estate Rum Tour has been an important facet of our tourism product for decades and has provided thousands of visitors with a distinctly Jamaican experience year after year," Bartlett pointed out.
He noted that new Appleton experience will see more than 100,000 visitors touring the Appleton Estate, more than twice the 50,000 persons that currently visit the attraction.
"It is proof of the tremendous impact this single project will have in driving tourism," he stated.
Attended by business interests and tourism stakeholders, those in attendance agreed that the facelift being given to the Appleton Estate Rum Tour complex is not only substantial but should also be seen as a clear vote of confidence in the tourism sector and its growth potential.
Chairman of J. Wray & Nephew Clement 'Jimmy' Lawrence said his company has been a permanent fixture on the south coast for many years and is simply reaffirming its commitment to making the region a premiere tourism destination akin to the north coast.
"We are expecting the entire region to be transformed in a very positive way," he noted. "There will be trickled-down benefits for the people during and after the expansion period. Tourism is really for and about the people and it is our intention to ensure that such benefits reach as many of our people as possible. This is indeed a very great day for the south coast."
Lawrence said the expansion work, which will start in January should be completed in time for the 2017 winter tourist season.