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The Bahamas would like you to remember that it’s so much more than disaster relief tents and sad cheese sandwiches.
Two years after the Fyre Festival left a mess of unpaid workers, defrauded investors and angry attendees in its wake, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation unveiled a new advertising campaign to promote the Caribbean archipelago. The new face of the Bahamas will be Lenny Kravitz, the 54-year-old, Grammy award-winning, Bahamian-American singer.
At an event in New York on Thursday night, tourism officials touted the beauty and grandeur of the island paradise, with its white and pink sand beaches, pristine blue waters and heartwarming personal stories of the locals. It’s been six years since the Bahamas last refreshed its pitch to visitors.
“We all know how important tourism is to the Bahamas,” said Minister Dionsio D’Aguilar, who hosted the festivities. “It is vital to our economy and our people.”
Outreach efforts have ramped up over the past 18 months and they’re paying off, D’Aguilar said. Last year, stopover visitors to the Bahamas were up 17 percent and his agency has seen strong demand from the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Germany. The majority of the 6 million or so annual visitors to the Bahamas come from the United States, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Kravitz’s 1998 hit “Fly Away” backs the new ads, a song he wrote while driving his daughter Zoe, now a Hollywood star, to school in the Bahamas. Though he was born in the U.S., Kravitz would often visit family in the Bahamas as a child, and recorded several of his albums there.
“It’s the place I go to be myself,” Kravitz said. “I am a local in the Bahamas. They are aware of what I do. They don’t care about that.”
Unfortunately, the islanders were forced to care about the disastrous Fyre Festival. Hosted on Great Exuma island in 2017, the music festival has recently been the focus of two documentaries and endless mocking social media posts. Local vendors, workers and contractors were left unpaid as the calamity unfolded. In its aftermath, the Bahamas tourism agency was quick to distance itself from Fyre, noting that it was “a private event.”
As the fiasco made international news, authorities in the Bahamas moved to bar its organizer, Billy McFarland, from doing business there in the future. McFarland is currently serving a six-year prison sentence in upstate New York for financial fraud.
There was no mention of the Fyre Festival at the event. Instead, Kravitz was asked if there are plans for him to play some shows on the islands.
“Good idea,” said Kravitz, to whoops and cheers from the crowd. “I have never played a real concert in the Bahamas.”
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.