Friday, November 21, 2014

Casa Bacardi Tours in Puerto Rico No Longer Free

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The drinks are no longer on the house at Casa Bacardi in Puerto Rico.

     Foreigners will now have to pay $12 and residents $6 to visit one of the most popular tourist attractions in the metropolitan San Juan region, officials said Tuesday.   The seaside rum distillery was well-known for its free drinks and tours.   The new cover charge includes a welcome drink, a commemorative 12-ounce acrylic glass and a tour of the Bacardi Visitor Center, according to a statement by Casa Bacardi. Those who want a tour of the distillery, a sampling of four premium rums or a drink-confectioning course must pay an additional $23.    Casa Bacardi officials said they also plan to renovate their facility and revamp their drink menus.
     Mari Jo Laborde, a spokeswoman for Puerto Rico's tourism company, said Bacardi officials have already met with tour operators and cruise line officials to notify them of the changes.    "It's one of the most important tours for us," she said. "They didn't consult us, but they did inform us about their plans. It's a private company and they take their own financial and strategic decisions."   More than 250,000 people a year visit the Bacardi distillery, where more than 83 percent of Bacardi rum is produced.

     This is a rend that has happened to the wine industry as well.  In my days of living in the Sonoma Valley of California I use to jump into my 1959 Austin Healy Sprite and drive over the mountain to the Napa Valley and sample all of the free wines at the wineries in St, Helena and Calistoga.   Today this is no longer a "free" event either.  Times change, insurance costs go up and it becomes necessary to charge for such visits.  In the case of Bacardi, it is no different.  You can not run a business at a loss and costs need to be covered.  The price of entry is about the same as having a couple of cocktails at a bar and you get so much more