Last updated by at .

Campari Takes Over Appleton Jamaica Rums

Gruppo Campari, the maker of aperitif, announced this week that it had bought controlling interest in Lascelles deMercado, maker of Appleton Jamaica Rums, from CL Financial Ltd.

Campari takes over CL Financial’s 81.4% share and will buy the remaining shares by year end. The total deal is worth $414.8 million and is expected to lead to a profit from next year.

Appleton Rums
Appleton Rums

This is Campari’s third biggest acquisition. In 2009, it bought Wild Turkey from Pernod Richard SA, and Skyy Spirits in 2001.

Lascelles deMercado has the largest stock of aged rums in the world – Appleton Jamaica Rum, which is distributed by J. Wray & Nephew, a subsidiary company. DeMercado was formed in 1825.

It’ll be interesting to see what impact, if any, the sale will have on the local market. Other distillers, like Worthy Park Estate and Hampden Estate, producers of bulk rum for the European market, have expanded into the lucrative white rum market with Rum Bar Rum and Rum Fire White Overproof respectively. Hampden’s Rum Fire, which was launched in March last year was awarded its first gold medal at this year’s International Wine & Spirits Competition.


Ernesto Threatens Jamaica50 Celebrations

Ernesto, the latest storm to form in the Atlantic, is reportedly heading towards Jamaica. It could hit between Sunday and Monday.

Since news about Ernesto surfaced, we’ve had our eyes on the Olympics, Jamaica50 Independence celebrations, which kicked off at Jubilee Village on August 1, and weather reports on Ernesto.

If it hits, as predicted, and no one can predict with certainty the path of any storm, it could make for one memorable 50th anniversary celebration. Not only are we planning a grand party on August 6th, it will be another big day for the Jamaican Track & Field team at the Olympics in London.

No, as much as we would love the rain, we’ve already had several torrential showers this week, Ernesto is not welcomed at this party.

We’ve been lucky though. Several storms have had their eyes trained on Jamaica only to turn at the last minute. Their names no longer matter.

We’ve also been unlucky. Jamaicans of a certain age still talk about the hurricane (Charlie) of ’51 that claimed over 150 lives. And in 1988, Gilbert took direct aim at the island, leaving millions of dollars worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure. It was so devastating, a song, Wild Gilbert, which put to music what happened ironically became one of the most popular songs of ’88. I can still hear my niece, who was about 4 at the time, singing Wild, Wild, Gilbert, the chorus. There have been several others, though not as damaging but just as frightening.

Ernesto has already stopped cricket in Barbados and Jamaican fishermen have been put on alert. Although winds have decreased, the storm could still pick up strength, turn into a hurricane and head straight for us.

No, Ernesto must turn back, stall over water, or better still, dissipate.

We can only keep our fingers crossed. Reports this morning are that Ernesto will arrive here on Sunday afternoon. So we’re making sure there’s water in the house. No need to buy any thing that needs refrigeration in case the power goes out.

We’ll sit tight and watch – the Olympics, the Jamaica50 Independence Jubilee, and the weather reports, most likely in that order. We’ll also be praying that the rains and winds don’t do too much damage.

Unfortunately, we’re in the hurricane season so storms can come up at any time. In fact, Florence, the next one is churning around somewhere out there. We’re not paying attention to her just yet.





Jamaica Revises Proposed Tax on Tourism Sector

Following the recently concluded Caribbean Tourism Summit in Montego Bay, the Jamaican government announced that it had revised its proposed tax on the tourism sector.

Under the tax plan announced on May 24th by Finance Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, hotels would be charged an accommodation tax from US$2 to US$12, depending on the number of rooms they had, while starting August 1, arriving passengers would be charged US$20.

The proposed tax would bring in J$6 billion from the tourism sector to help close the J$19 billion shortfall in the 2012/13 budget.

Tourism stakeholders were outraged over the announcement.

Former tourism minister, now opposition spokesman on tourism, Ed Bartlett, called the move “ill-advised and punitive” and cautioned that it would “damage the only sector in Jamaica that has shown consistent growth over the last five years.”

The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) also expressed its disappointment at the government’s decision and through a technical working group, put forward alternatives, including an environmental tax on cruise ship passengers.

The revised tax was reduced to US1, for accommodations with less than 51 rooms; US$2 for 51-200 rooms and US$4 for those with 101 rooms or more. Accommodations with more than 200 rooms saw the biggest cut from US$12.

Other Tourism Tax Woes

Under the recently passed Airport Administration Charge Act 2012, passengers traveling to the Caribbean island of Antigua will see an additional US93.75 (up from US$63.75) added to their airfare.

Another issue discussed at the CTO Summit was the Air Passenger Duty (APD), a tax assessed by the British government on travelers to the region. The APD, which has been in place since 1994, taxes countries in groups based on the distance of their capital cities from London. The tax for travelers to the Caribbean rose last November from £50 (US$78.54) to £75 (US$117.92), and again in April to £81 or US$127.20.

Caribbean tourism officials argue that the increase puts the region at a competitive disadvantage. Their arguments, however, have not found traction with the British government.

New Jamaican Airline Set to Launch

FlyJamaica Airlines, a new Jamaican airline, is set to launch as soon as next month. According to a report in the local news on March 21st, the new airline’s principals are Guyanese but the majority owners are Jamaicans.

FlyJamaica will operate between Kingston, Georgetown, the Guyanese capital, New York’s JFK and Toronto.

FlyJamaica Airlines, image from the Internet
FlyJamaica Airlines, image from the Internet

The announcement of this new airline comes days after REDjet, the Caribbean’s first budget airline, signaled that it was halting service on all routes. FlyJamaica Airlines is expected to compete with Caribbean Airlines on its Jamaican and Guyanese routes.

Only time will tell whether FlyJamaica Airlines will achieve profitability and fill the void left by the loss of the national carrier, Air Jamaica.

Saturday, 9/10/11

In the aftermath of September 11 (9/11), many people commented on the significance of the date 9/11. 911 is the number we call when we need help. The first flight that crashed into the Twin Towers was American Flight 11. Including the hijackers, that flight carried 92 passengers (9 + 2 = 11).

Emails that floated around at the time, gave more details on the numbers, some were just too farfetched to believe.

But as I looked at today’s date, I noticed that it 9/10/11 lines up in perfect numerical sequence. I have no idea what if means or if it means anything. If it does, can someone enlighten me?

What do you think? Does it mean anything? Did you even notice?