According to Appleton, he rail will help boost the number of visitors to the rum company's much vaunted tourism attraction Appleton Estate Rum Experience at the Appleton Estate in northern St Elizabeth from 50,000 — when the tour attaction was closed more than a year ago to allow massive reconstruction — to 200,000 annually.
However, as far as Appleton is concerned, the Jamaica Government's long-promised rail service from Montego Bay to Appleton, for what has been described as an “unparalleled” rum experience, remains just a plan.
J Wray & Nephew Chairman Clement “Jimmy” Lawrence was unequivocal in his comment to scores of visitors and Appleton employees last Thursday, that the highly anticipated return of the rail service which collapsed decades ago was essential to the success of Campari's US$7.2-million investment in the Appleton Estate rum experience.“Though we had anticipated the resuscitation of the railway service, unfortunately it has not materialised,” he said.
“Let me underscore the importance of the rail service, particularly the Montego Bay to Appleton leg. The rum experience, which can accommodate 200,000 visitors annually, will not maximise its capacity in the absence of this mode of transportation. I know and appreciate the Government is making its best efforts for this to happen, but its importance cannot be overemphasised,” he added.
However, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who has described Campari's investment at Appleton as a huge boost for Jamaica's US$3-billion visitor industry reassured Appleton that the project was being pursued: “Jimmy, the rail service is going to be a reality,” said Bartlett.
The reactivation of the tourist rail service from Montego Bay to the Appleton Estate in Siloah, St. Elizabeth, will soon become a reality.
Bartlett, told the official opening of the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience (formerly the Appleton Estate Rum Tour) that plans are being fast-tracked “to get the train up and running” as quickly as possible.
He said Campari's investment at Appleton represented “exactly the kind of attraction Jamaica needs as it continues to diversify the tourism product to boost visitor arrivals and tourism earnings”.
He told the Campari Group that Prime Minister Andrew Holness was “a great supporter, and he wanted me to say to you that he personally is committed to ensuring that the transportation arrangements to enable what I call a seamless flow of visitors into your destination is in place.”
Bartlett told journalists that he expected the rail link from Montego Bay to Appleton to be done in two years:“I am hoping that we will have that arrangement from Montego Bay to Appleton by 2020,” Bartlett said. He expected the first leg of the project from Montego Bay to Catadupa to be done at the end of this year to early next year.
While not disclosing the cost of the project or the name of the investors, he said the rail service “ will build a new corridor for development.” It is expected that the new service will not only redevelop the roads in the area, but will resume train stops at stations in southern St James and northern St Elizabeth, and revitalise communities which were thriving before the old passenger rail service died in the 1990s.
Bartlett told journalists. “In the old days the towns of Cataduppa, Ipswich, Merrywood, Mulgrave were all bustling little commercial centres. That possibility looms again,” he said.
Named in honour of Joy Spence, Appleton's master blender who has been at the company since 1981 and is said to be the “first female master blender in the entire spirit world”, the Appleton Rum Experience (formerly the Appleton Estate Rum Tour) is aimed at exposing visitors to Jamaican history, culture and cuisine, while promoting Appleton Rum to the world.
It's projected that 100,000 visitors will come to Appleton this year, gradually building to 200,000 annually with the coming into being of the rail service and improved roads. The 11,000-acre Appleton Estate is said to have been producing rum since 1749.
Noting that gastronomy tourism was now worth US$150 billion globally and growing fast, Bartlett said he was “especially excited” by a new state-of-the-art restaurant, “because Jamaica is expanding into gastronomy tourism in a big way” as part of an overall diversification of its visitor industry.
The upgrade at Appleton amounts to 26,000 square feet of buildings. It includes a welcome centre, luxurious bars and lounges, expanded tour elements detailing historic rum manufacturing from “cane to cup”, tasting rooms to facilitate visitors in the “experience” of Appleton products, kitchens, restaurant (complete with authentic jerk pit), and retail store.
- Countries: Jamaica