Rum festival for Hope Gardens March 9

Thursday, February 07, 2019

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TOURISM Minister Edmund Bartlett says the Jamaica Rum Festival will serve to further enhance the country's global appeal as a travel destination.

The two-day event, slated for Hope Botanical Gardens in St Andrew from March 9 to 10, will be jointly staged by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), in collaboration with J Wray & Nephew Limited's Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.

It aims to promote various ways in which rum can be utilised and enjoyed, boost Kingston's tourism product and showcase Jamaica's cultural excellence in food, beverage and music.

In a speech read by TEF Executive Director Dr Carey Wallace during Tuesday's launch at Jamaica House, Bartlett said the festival will help to boost repeat business for the island, once it becomes an annual fixture.

Jamaica enjoys a 42 per cent rate of repeat tourist business, and is targeting the other 58 per cent.

The minister noted that the festival “is not (just) an event… . It is a product that will join the coffee festival, and the cocoa festival, which is coming”.

“We'll also be looking at other commodities to which Jamaica has some level of comparative advantage and use that to leverage the experiential tourism that we are marketing,” he said.

Bartlett said stakeholder training will be pivotal in ensuring visitors are offered a unique Jamaican rum experience.

In this regard, he advised that the Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation has partnered with Appleton Estate to train a cadre of bartenders.

Meanwhile, Dr Wallace, who indicated that approximately $10 million has been invested in the festival, expressed the hope that it will be staged annually “so that tourism grows in leaps and bounds”.

J Wray & Nephew Limited's Director of Marketing Jacopo Borsa said the goal is to create the best rum festival globally, compared to those staged in the United States of America and Europe.

“Our hope, through our participation in the Jamaica Rum Festival, is to further propel our rums as a tourist product, taking persons from around the world on a journey about our rums,” he said.

Borsa added that the festival represents a platform to “speak to the local and international consumer” about Jamaican rums.

Other stakeholder partners include Monymusk, Hampden Estate, Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum, Charley's JB Rum and Sangster's Rum Cream.

Patrons will be exposed to the rum-making process, taught the unique provenance of Jamaican rums and allowed to sample a variety of blends.

Attendees will also discover ideal rum and food pairings, while enjoying entertainment from some of Jamaica's finest musicians.

Additionally, they will be encouraged to explore the Jamaican competitive spirit through their participation in rum-based culinary and mixology competitions, among other engagements.

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