Jamaica Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says that the Government of Jamaica has been in discussions with a number of investors to resuscitate the railway program to Appleton Estate, which he hopes will result in an increase of tourists visiting the south coast of the island. The project has a completion date of 2020.
Speaking at the launch of the newly-opened Joy Spence Appleton Rum Estate Tour on January 18, 2017, the Minister said that, “the rail is going to be a reality. The last discussion I had, before I went to my meetings in Spain last week, was with the team of entrepreneurs who are putting the dollars together.”
“There is a local group who were able to tell me that $40 million is on the table now to start the first leg of the program, which will take us to Catadupa and the second leg into Appleton. The Prime Minister, Minister of Transport and I are excited about coordinating with them to start the first phase of the tracks being put back and the system being active,” he continued.
The Minister also disclosed that commitments have also been made to improve the roadway to the iconic Appleton Rum Estate, which recently received a US$7.2 million upgrade to its facilities.
“The Prime Minister, who is also a great supporter of this experience, wanted me to share that he is personally committed to ensuring that the transportation arrangements to enable seamless flow of visitors into this destination is in place. The road improvement program is on the cards for this fiscal year to come and the Tourism Enhancement Fund will provide assistance with that,” he said.
The reopening of the railway and improved roadways, in conjunction with the Appleton Rum Tour, is expected to improve community tourism along the route and provide increased economic opportunities for stakeholders.
As the island’s oldest distillery, Appleton Estate is already the biggest tourist attraction on the south coast, bringing in tens of thousands of visitors a year. With the new upgrade more than 100,000 visitors are expected to visit the home of Appleton to experience how the world-leading premium rums are produced.
“I am committed to working with you at Appleton to move the projected 100,000 visitors to 250,000 by 2020. Next week I am going to be talking to some partners in Miami, who I know will have an interest in this particular experience,” said the Minister.