Building Rum Heritage: Unique Opportunity to Promote Agrotourism Through Rum

Two regional organisations have joined forces to promote the distinct qualities of two Caribbean iconic products – rum and tourism.

The West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers’ Association Inc. (WIRSPA) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) recently hosted a webinar on “Building Rum Heritage: Adding Value through Visitor Experiences.”

This jointly organised webinar aimed to build awareness and provide an opportunity for spirits’ producers to share experiences on the wider rum heritage practices in their respective states and spark interest for the creation of a Caribbean Rum Trail, borrowing on the best practices and success stories of several established and iconic rum trails in the U.S., Mexico and the northern Caribbean.

With over 60 participants, comprising of Caribbean rum producers, regional and international stakeholders and tourism agencies, the session featured presenters from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (USA), Caminos del Mezcal and La Ruta Del Tequila (Mexico), L’Habitation ClĂ©ment (Martinique) and John Watling’s Distillery – Buena Vista Estate (Bahamas). Each presentation featured an overview of the best practices which established each visitor experience as a recognised, quality model of an attraction centred around spirits.

With WIRSPA and IICA about to agree on further areas for collaboration and formalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), this is expected to be the first of several conversations among the producers and relevant stakeholders, including the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, focused on the development of the Caribbean Rum Trail initiative and its unique opportunity to promote Agrotourism through rum.

“We have a long way to go before we get this project up and running stated Ena Harvey, head of the IICA Delegation in Barbados, “but IICA sees the Caribbean Rum Trail as a real-world example of an agritourism project that could have tangible economic results for the Caribbean region, whose citizens have suffered greatly from recent natural disasters and the devastation to tourism due to COVID-19. I am excited to reach out to all the different organizations and stakeholders that will benefit from this Agritourism initiative.”

<strong>Vaughn Renwick</strong>, CEO of WIRSPA, in explaining his organisation's involvement, said, "<em>Our members represent hundreds of years of rum making, the countries where rum was born, each brand with its own story and background. Linkages to agriculture and the rural landscape remain strong and a focal point for visitors to our countries. While we celebrate modern rum, inextricably linked to our heritage and culture, we also recognise its troubled birth. All these elements form a tapestry to be faithfully presented and explored</em>."

Vaughn Renwick, CEO of WIRSPA, in explaining his organisation’s involvement, said, “Our members represent hundreds of years of rum making, the countries where rum was born, each brand with its own story and background. Linkages to agriculture and the rural landscape remain strong and a focal point for visitors to our countries. While we celebrate modern rum, inextricably linked to our heritage and culture, we also recognise its troubled birth. All these elements form a tapestry to be faithfully presented and explored.”

“We are very happy to be part of this initiative and believe that it presents economic opportunities for the places and communities associated with rum and sugar” he added.

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