Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) Group Chairman Komal Samaroo has been re-elected to serve as Chairman for the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA) and plans to engage Caribbean lea
ders on the importation of duty-free rums.
He was elected to continue serving in the capacity when rum producers from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Dominican Republic met with members of WIRSPA earlier this month in St Lucia for the biannual Directors’ and Annual General Meetings.
Speaking at the event, Samaroo said that the availability of imported duty-free spirits to both visitors and locals alike, whether through legitimate sale or through (tax) controls, is a real threat to regional domestic markets.
“We have recently placed this as an active issue before Caricom Ministers of Trade and we will work with Governments to address these challenges which impact so negatively on our international competitiveness,” Samaroo is quoted as saying by the Association in a release to the media.
During the two days of meetings, Caribbean rum producers were urged to exploit the potential of the regional tourism industry to build their brands.
St Lucia’s Tourism Minister and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Dominic Fedee said there was tremendous opportunity for the Region’s two preeminent brands – tourism and rum.
The Minister at a tasting of Authentic Caribbean Rums (ACR) shared that some of the best rums are being produced right in the Region and must be promoted. He said, “As a people we need to be prouder of our indigenous world-class brands… many persons aspire to foreign brands, while consumers in those self-same countries crave our products.”
Minister Fedee reminded those in attendance that millions of visitors pour into various Caribbean countries each year which presents a unique opportunity for them to sample and purchase the high-grade products, whether on board a ship, in resorts or in their respective touring initiatives.
In response to the Minister’s call, the reappointed Chairman informed that, “The potential to improve the visitor package and to increase exposure of our high-quality premium brands through leveraging our 300-plus years of rum history and heritage are well appreciated, and an opportunity our producers are actively addressing.”
Meanwhile, St Lucia Distillers Managing Director Margaret Monplaisir, in her remarks, underscored the importance of visitors and shared the country’s plans for tourists.
“Visitors are an increasingly important part of our business model. We are currently planning a major investment in a new visitor facility that will expose the best of St Lucia and, of course, the best of our rums,” she revealed.
Monplaisir noted that the investment was a substantial one and, once completed, would be among St Lucia’s premier visitor attractions.
WIRSPA is one of the oldest Private Sector trade associations in the Caribbean. It represents rum producers in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Haiti, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
ACR, the products produced by the membership of WIRSPA, represent a unique and distinct sector within the drinks industry, supported by common quality standards and rules. The ACR marque was developed as a symbol of authenticity, provenance, and quality for rums, within the WIRSPA family.