A rum academy, suggested by a prominent distiller has received backing from Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds.
Symmonds, who gave his support for Mount Gay Distilleries Managing Director Raphael Grisoni’s suggestion, noted Barbados’ international reputation as a historic rum producer.
He said his ministry was willing and ready to partner with Mount Gay and other players in the market to set up an institution to teach Barbadians and tourists alike about the history and business of rum production.
In remarks at Mount Day’s Open Day on Saturday, Symmonds said: “In consult with you, I would be very happy now to say that the Ministry of Tourism would be happy to partner in the creation of such an education experience and taking our tourism experience another notch up.”
Last year, Grisoni declared that it was the duty of the oldest distillery in Barbados “to lead in educating all [about] the art and craft of our industry to sustain and preserve our heritage”.
Symmonds said Barbados must be prepared to showcase to the world the history of the slave society, the role it played in rum production and the importance of the experience to transitioning Barbados from a colonial backwater to being one of the world’s most competitive Small Island Developing States.
The Minister said:“This country has to begin to hold up for the world to see those things that set us apart and differentiate us. And again this is a major part of what we are trying to achieve in tourism.
“The Mexicans make no apology about tequila and its relationship to Mexico, the French have absolutely no apology about champagne and the relationship to France, and the Scottish feel similar about scotch.
“And we have in Barbados to be prepared to make the same bold international statement.”
Symmonds also indicated that Government intended to continue to make the tourism experience a far more cultural and historical experience than it has ever been.
He told the open day’s attendees: “We cannot do the business of tourism seriously in this country if we continue to hide the lights under a bushel.
“The country is full of communities which reflect levels of excellence and expertise that we must showcase, and talent that we have to put on show.
“It is also very important to understand that as we go forward we want authenticity in our tourism product.
“And we can only do that, if we are prepared to do the things that Mount Gay has been able to demonstrate by way of continuity and persistence and commitment to developing that which is really not only a manufacturing commodity, but part of the cultural heritage of this country.” [email protected]