Fri | Jun 5, 2020

Worthy Park gets nod from NEPA for theme park

Published:Monday | April 6, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Gordon Clarke, co-managing director of Worthy Park Estate Limited.

Sugar and rum producer Worthy Park Estate has received approval from the National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) for a theme park at the distillery in Lluidas Vale, St Catherine.

Worthy Park’s application to NEPA for the incorporation of theme parks at its property, which stretches across 10,000 acres of land, was submitted in July, just a month before the company had its first rum tour.

In August, Co-Managing Director Gordon Clarke said that the estate had invested about $6 million in launching the rum tour, which is initially aimed at raising awareness of the Worthy Park brands, and ultimately, becoming another revenue earner for the company.

Worthy Park Estate recently added a visitor centre, developed a video of the history of the sugar estate, and retrofitted parts of the distillery for the 90-minute tour.

The tour, which, according to one visitor, started out with glasses of rum punch, was followed by an on-screen presentation of the Worthy Park sugar plantation. They were thereafter treated to cane-juicing demonstrations and an informative walking tour and a tasting of Rum-Bar and the Worthy Park Single Estate premium rums.

Overall, it was more “theory-based” than the ­seven-hour Appleton Estates Rum Tour in St Elizabeth, the visitor said.

Efforts to get a comment from Clarke were ­unsuccessful. The initial planning application from Worthy Park got NEPA’s board approval in September 2019 but was followed by an amendment, which was cleared by NEPA’s board on February 18.

The schedule for the theme parks to be up and running is unknown but is likely to be affected by Jamaica’s mitigation measures against the spread of the coronavirus.

Operating for over 300 years, Worthy Park’s venture into the rum-tour business comes years after Appleton Estate opened its doors for rum tours in 1988. Estate owner J. Wray & Nephew Limited pumped US$10 million into jazzing up the Appleton tour three years ago and rebranded it in honour of their world- renowned master blender, Joy Spence.

The tour, which spans Appleton Estate’s 265-year history into its modern operations and which is capped off with rum tastings, has been a hit among Jamaicans and tourists alike.