The West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA) plans to engage regional leaders on the issue of tax-free alcohol.
Chairman of the Demerara Distillers Limited Group, Komal Samaroo was reelected to serve as Chairman of the West Indies Rum Association.
Rum producers from the Caribbean Community and the Dominican Republic, members of the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA), met in St. Lucia on 6th and 7th May, for their biannual directors’ and annual general meetings.
Issuing his clarion call at a tasting of Authentic Caribbean Rums, St Lucia’s Minister of Tourism, Dominic Fedee, lamented the low profile given the iconic rum brands being produced in the region.
He said: “With some 40 million visitors coming to our countries each year we have a unique opportunity for them to sample and purchase our products, whether it be on board ship, in our resorts, or in our community tourism initiatives”.
Responding to the call, Samaroo said: “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.”
However, according to Samaroo, the availability of imported duty-free spirits to both visitors and locals alike, whether through legitimate sale or through lax controls, is a real threat to domestic markets.
As such, he noted that the West Indies Rum Association has recently placed this as an active issue before CARICOM ministers of trade and it will work with governments to address these challenges which impact so negatively on the international competitiveness of rum producers.