Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says the nearly J$1-billion renovation work to be carried out at the Appleton Estate Rum attraction in Siloah, St Elizabeth, will significantly boost tourism arrivals on the south coast.
He said the investment, which will include a first-class restaurant showcasing the finest in Jamaican cuisine, will enable the facility to become “the centrepiece” of the ministry’s gastro-tourism push in the region.
“We are going to be staking our claim by going aggressively into gastro-tourism,” Bartlett said at the launch of the project on November 18.
“This is a very lucrative market where tourists spend billions of dollars worldwide annually. We feel the south coast is a prime area for this kind of tourism and we are going to do everything to make it work,” he added, noting that the area is also an attractive option for adventure seekers.
The tourism minister said the investment by J Wray & Nephew and its parent company, Gruppo Campari, could bring in excess of 200,000 visitors to the attraction annually, creating employment and revenue opportunities for residents.
Bartlett said the investment is timely and coincides with other developments planned for the region, including the reintroduction of rail service.
“Of great importance is the highly anticipated reintroduction of the train – post 2017 – which will see the expansion of the company’s product offerings to include the Appleton Estate railway carriage. This is long overdue and will truly complement the Appleton Estate Rum Tour,” he said.
Bartlett said that some road repairs will be carried out in anticipation of the increased traffic to the region.
“We are also excited about the possibilities for our vendors along the roadways and the innovative ways in which they can attract some of the business,” he added.
Bartlett appealed for farmers to get prepared to capitalise on the opportunities that will become available.
“With the prospect of feeding over 200,000 guests annually, there will be a great demand for food, and our farmers, particularly those in this region, must be able to consistently deliver,” he noted.
He informed that there is a special $20-million revolving loan facility available, financed by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), to boost the compliance of small tourism properties, attractions and businesses in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth.