APPLETON, ST. ELIZABETH; JAMAICA – Minister of Tourism Jamaica, Hon. 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 the Jamaica’s South Coast. Minister Bartlett headed a list of dignitaries who broke ground recently for the Appleton Estate Visitor Centre which on completion, will be a showpiece surrounded by vast fields of sugar cane and home of Appleton, one of the world’s top rum brands.
The Tourism Minister was particularly pleased that the project was being undertaken in an area of Jamaica where investment of that magnitude has 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 and to build out with you a seminal and aspirational experience that will bring millions of people to these parts over the coming years.”
Appleton Estate is owned by J. Wray & Nephew (JWN), a subsidiary of Gruppo Campari and the investment project was outlined by JWN’s Chairman, Clement “Jimmy” Lawrence, who noted that it 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, luxurious bar, five-star restaurant and other amenities preceding the historical tour of the estate’s distillery and its ageing warehouses. It is highly anticipated that the rail service which ground to a halt many years ago, will be rolling again around 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.
Minister Bartlett lauded JWN 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.” He was also pleased that elements of the exciting expansion plan, namely food and music, were two of the passion points that will attract visitors. “So 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,” said Mr. Bartlett.
With the inclusion of a state of the art restaurant under the project, Minister Bartlett said “we see this as a bold statement that Jamaica is about to make to the world as a centre of gastronomy.” Also, work is progressing by the Ministry’s newly formed Gastronomy Network to, among other things, create a gastronomy mapping platform with easily accessible information on the best food offerings island-wide; 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.
He implored Appleton to aim for a level of increase in visitors to the attraction way 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.”