British reggae band UB40 is to work with Virgin Holidays to encourage holidaymakers back to the Caribbean following September’s devastating hurricanes.
Three months after Hurricane Irma, Caribbean hotel and tourism organisations are working with British travel companies to remind consumers that the best way to help the islands recover is to visit the region.
The band filmed a new music video for its 1998 hit Come Back Darling in a bid to reassure British holidaymakers that the region is ready for tourists to ‘come back’ following a concerted recovery effort.
The video was shot on location in Antigua and showcases the best of the destination, culminating in a special performance filmed at Pineapple Beach Club.
It comes as new research of 1,000 people by One Poll found that more than a third of UK consumers were less likely to holiday in the Caribbean because they falsely believe the widespread media impression of the hurricanes having a lasting impact.
A 1% drop in total visitor numbers would translate to 227,000 less visitors and $138 million in lost expenditure, according to a Caribbean Development Bank assessment.
Hurricane Irma was the strongest observed Hurricane in the Atlantic since 2005, costing the region an estimated $64.66 billion and causing 134 recorded fatalities – despite largely avoiding major tourist destinations such as St Lucia, Barbados, Antigua and Jamaica.
Caribbean Tourism Organisation secretary general Hugh Riley said: “Much of the region has bounced back and the damage, whilst catastrophic to some islands and people, was isolated.
“For those areas that still need help rebuilding, it’s tourism that will help to fund these efforts and we would urge British tourists to ‘come back’ to one of the most beautiful regions in the world.”
Almost all of the properties and attractions featured by Virgin Holidays have since re-opened following the hurricanes.
The operator’s managing director Joe Thompson said: “Virgin Holidays works incredibly closely with tourism authorities across the region and want to put the Caribbean back on people’s radar for their 2018 holiday.
“The islands are as stunning as ever and the misconception that the whole region has been devastated needs to be addressed.
“Both Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic are committed to supporting the Caribbean, and one of the best ways we can demonstrate that commitment is through strengthening our flying programme to the region.
“We are sending more tourists than ever before with two additional flights per week from London Heathrow to Barbados, which started on December 12.”
Elite Island Resorts European managing director Paula Whitehead said: “Our four resorts in Antigua are a favourite holiday choice for tens of thousands of British travellers each year.
“Three of our biggest resorts were thankfully unaffected, and after some impact at our fourth resort Galley Bay, we are very excited to be re-opening on 23 December bigger and better than ever before.
“We’re thankful for all the support and partnership from Virgin Holidays, and trust us when we say it was one brilliant gig at Pineapple Beach Club.”
UB40 frontman Ali Campbell said: “Our music is inspired by the beautiful Caribbean islands and, of course, it has always been close to our hearts.
“Putting a whole new meaning to the lyrics of Come Back Darling has been a brilliant experience – and we hope it lands the message amongst the Great British public that Caribbean locals really do want them to ‘come back’. ”
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