Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says he wants the annual Jamaica Rum Festival to be extended to Jamaica’s tourism capital — Montego Bay.
Speaking at the opening of the Jamaica Rum Festival at Hope Gardens on Saturday, the Tourism Minister said, “ I am giving a charge to the organizing team as well as the Ministry of Tourism, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the Tourism Linkages Network and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), to come together to take this product to Montego Bay, which is the mecca of tourism.”
He further added that he wants the island to host a week of food festivals, including the Jamaica Rum Festival, which will be marketed by the JTB to potential visitors worldwide, as another reason to come to the island.
“I want to see a week of Rum Festival, Coffee Festival, Chocolate Festival and festivals of other uniquely Jamaican products. We can then market this week-long event to gastronomy connoisseurs who are interested in experiencing our cuisine in unique ways,” he said.
He further added that he is particularly interested in the development of a chocolate festival because of the diversity of the product and its historical significance.
“Jamaica’s cocoa is of particular interest, as it was the feedstock for the famous Cadbury Chocolate in the 18th Century… Jamaica’s history has provided these wonderful cultural assets and it cannot be ignored. We must resurrect the value that Jamaica’s chocolate had in the past,” said the Minister.
The Jamaica Rum Festival is a two-day event, which is jointly staged by the Ministry of Tourism and the TEF, in collaboration with J. Wray and Nephew Limited’s Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.
It aims to promote various ways in which rum can be utilized and enjoyed, boost Kingston’s tourism product and showcase Jamaica’s cultural excellence in food, beverage and music.
During the event, which started on February 29, patrons were exposed to the rum-making process, learned about the unique provenance of Jamaican rums and sampled a variety of blends. They also learned about ideal rum and food pairings, while enjoying entertainment from some of Jamaica’s finest musicians.
The Minister commended the organizers for another successful staging of the event and assured them that the Ministry will continue to offer its support.
“The Jamaica Rum Festival is a tourism product that we are going to make part of our marketing arrangements but we want to do more.
All the infrastructure required to make this festival into a stronger product will be put in place with the support of the Ministry, to make sure that every year we can go to the market and package this festival with rooms and with seats and bring the visitors to Jamaica to consume this critical asset,” he said.
The Ministry, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund, provided $6 million towards the staging of this year’s festival, as part of its partnership with the festival organizers.