Time For Tourism And Rum To Work Together – By David Jessop

Time For Tourism And Rum To Work Together

By David Jessop

rumNews Americas, LONDON, England, Fri. Dec. 18, 2015: Not that long ago, Prensa Latina reported that the Director General of Havana Club International had said that its best selling Cuban rum, Havana Club, and the culture of the country were coincident.

Quoting Jérome Cottin-Bizonne, the Frenchman who runs the joint venture between Cuba Ron and the French spirits conglomerate Pernod Ricard, the Cuban news agency said that that he believed that the product ‘distils the richness and variety of Cuban culture’ and ‘provides above all a contemporary, transcendent element in the promotion of the product.’  

Since the company sells over four million cases rum of branded a year internationally, despite the US market being closed to it, his comments, while perhaps given to hyperbole, have a broader significance.

Mr. Cottin-Bizonne’s words contain an important message for the whole tourism and rum industry in the rest of the Caribbean.

One of the odder aspects in CARICOM is the parochialism that exists when it comes to promoting the Caribbean and defending its interests is the failure in many countries to bring together all that enables a nation able to cross sell and sell up a destination, so that its image, offering and revenue raising possibilities are enhanced.

This is particularly odd when it comes to rum as most Caribbean citizens are willing, almost without prompting, to defend their national rum as being the best; while each nation’s distillers and brand owners go to great lengths to promote their product to visitors, not least in the hope they will continue to seek out ‘a taste of’ Jamaica, Antigua or wherever that have travelled to, when they return home.

The rum producers who have got this to an art are those in the Caribbean French départements d’outre-mer of Martinique and Guadeloupe, where those who produce rhum traditionnel has fully embraced tourism and vice−versa; offer distillery tours at historic distillery sites; have museum like facilities about the tradition of rum; maintain beautiful estate houses where one can dine and sample the product; and are well organized in ensuring that as many visitors as possible take back with them the product itself. Their objective, together with their tourist board, is to not only have the visitor buy the product in mainland France but also, as it were, to remind them to return.

For this reason one would have thought that identifying ways to jointly promote tourism and rum both in CARICOM nations and externally would have been little more than common sense. One might have thought too that all Caribbean governments would move heaven and earth to protect smaller distillers in particular when it came to trade disputes, as in doing so they would be defending an important element of their national culture, economy, and patrimony for the long term.

Instead tourism and regional branding and logo marketing each travel in their own directions with different regional branding.

While there are some sound marketing reasons for this, a moment should come soon when at least, for some events like the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition, or at one of the international rum festivals, the two should come together either nationally with tourist boards or regionally with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), and CHTA to cross promote.

As Havana Club has demonstrated there is much else that can be done too.

The reason that Mr. Cottin-Bizonne was speaking to Prensa Latina was because Havana Club was sponsoring the Havana Art Biennale, a cultural event that he considered vital for his company, and for Cuba, and for the image of both in the world among those who set trends.

Surely the time has come for rum and tourism and governments to work more closely to jointly promote and market what is both a part of regional culture and image though a product that should in everyone’s minds be inextricably linked to the Caribbean.


David Jessop

David Jessop

David Jessop is a consultant to the Caribbean Council and can be contacted atdavid.jessop@caribbean-council.org Previous columns can be found at www.caribbean-council.org


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  • Peter N D'Aguiar  On 12/24/2015 at 8:02 am

    The best rum in the world is the El Dorado 20year old from Guyana

    • De castro  On 12/27/2015 at 4:04 am

      Its zacapa from Nicaragua…..tasted/tested both at rum fest in Earls Court exhibition 2 years ago.
      However it is price prohibitive ……duty free in my travels £€$….£75 for litre bottle but no half litres
      available either.
      El Dorado can be ordered online now.,,……zacapa ?

      Rum coniseur

  • demerwater  On 12/25/2015 at 9:31 am

    You know? Back in 1962-1965, I would listen in at 6.00 pm to a radio program which started off thus. “Welcome to Trinidad! Where the nights are cool; and the blood runs warm … and the ‘Natives drink Rum!'” Or words to that effect.
    Man, those last three words resonated with me. Yes! Link tourism with RUM!
    I was born in a country that produced “XM Prize Medal” Russian Bear – ‘White label’, ‘Red label’; and ‘Black Label’ ‘Demerara fruit cured rum’ and things like that.
    What more can I say?
    Just sing along.

    • De castro  On 12/27/2015 at 4:07 am

      Rum and coca cola
      Searching for the Yankee dollar.

      Guess my age?

  • De castro  On 12/27/2015 at 6:08 am

    Agree with most of comrade Jessops points raised in above article.

    Rum is to carribean (Guyana) what Scotch is to Scotland.
    However tourist do not visit Scotland to “consume” their whisky.
    Tourists do not go to carribean to “consume” their rum.
    They go there for many other reasons…..music,food,culture etc.

    Most of Carib rums are not available “externally” ….branded names.
    Maybe its an idea to have one Branded name for all rums made from carribean sugar cane.
    Zacapa is made by blending different brands but only from sugar cane juice grown on mountains
    in Nicaragua ….ideal “environment” climate for growing sugar cane….producing rum.
    A unique situ….as per coke in columbia or coffee in Brazil etc etc

    Just an idea …..buy my el Dorado 10yo online in UK via amazon next day delivery.

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