Virgin Holidays has teamed up with legendary British reggae band, UB40, to encourage tourists to return to the idyllic Caribbean islands following the impact left by Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Jose this year.
UB40, featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue, filmed a new music video for their Greatest Album hit Come Back Darling in a bid to reassure Brits that the region is ready for tourists to ‘come back’ following a concerted recovery effort.
Three months after 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.
More than 29 million tourists visited the region last year – however, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation has revised its growth projections downward to 1% – 2% because of the 2017 hurricane season, from an original forecast of 2.5% – 3.5%. According to a Caribbean Development Bank assessment, a 1% drop in visitor numbers would translate to 227,000 fewer visitors and $138 million in lost expenditure.
New research of 1,000 British adults by One Poll depicts an even grimmer projection with more than a third of UK consumers claiming they are less likely to holiday in the region because they falsely believe the widespread media impression of the hurricane having a lasting impact.
Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Virgin Holidays to showcase what the Caribbean islands have to offer British tourists. 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.”
UB40, featuring Ali Campbell, Astro, and Mickey, has filmed a music video to support the campaign using their 1998 hit single, Come Back Darling, which is available to view below. The new video was shot on location in the gorgeous Caribbean island of Antigua and showcases the best of the destination, culminating in a special performance filmed at Pineapple Beach Club.
Virgin Holidays 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 12th.”
Ali Campbell, UB40 frontman, commented: “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’. ”
Henry Charles Fernandez, the Minister for Tourism for Antigua and Barbuda, added: “As always, we’re proud to showcase our beautiful corner of the world and have one simple message for the British public – ‘Come Back, Darling’. We would like to thank UB40 for visiting Antigua, and we look forward to welcoming more UK visitors in 2018.”
Paula Whitehead, European Managing Director of Elite Island Resorts, 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.”
Hurricane Irma was the strongest observed Hurricane in the Atlantic since 2005, costing the region an estimated $64.66 billion USD and causing 134 recorded fatalities – despite largely avoiding major tourist destinations such as St Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, and Jamaica. The Caribbean covers more than one million square miles, and although 70% of Caribbean destinations were not impacted the region is banding together to support their neighbours through the One Caribbean Family initiative, created by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.
Whilst dealing with the immediate impact of the hurricane Virgin Atlantic brought hundreds of customers’ home early, rebooked or rescheduled thousands more free of charge and evacuated customers from Cuba.
In addition to supporting customers affected by the hurricane, both Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays placed an immediate focus on relief efforts in the affected region and arranged for multiple relief flights in conjunction with the UK Department for International Development, as well as diverting on-board fundraising efforts to support Save The Children Children’s Emergency Fund.
Almost all of the properties and attractions featured by Virgin Holidays have since re-opened following the hurricane, and Virgin Atlantic is continuing to increase their flying programme into the region with additional flights from London Heathrow to Barbados.
About Virgin Holidays
Virgin Holidays is the UK’s favourite worldwide holiday company. Founded in 1985 on the Virgin principles of excellent customer service, value, reliability, responsibility and a sense of fun, it has used its entrepreneurial heritage and passion for innovation to benefit customers and communities around the world. The brand is particularly known for the ‘magic touches’ it has brought to market. From the world’s first dedicated airport leisure lounges to the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean, Virgin Holidays puts its customers and the communities it works with at the heart of its commitment to do things differently. In 2017, it was voted Best Large Holiday Company to the USA, Canada, and the Caribbean for the seventh consecutive year at the prestigious, consumer-voted, British Travel Awards.
About Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic was founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson 33 years ago with innovation and customer service at its core. Today Virgin Atlantic carries 5.5 million customers annually and was recently named the UK’s favourite long-haul carrier by Skytrax, and one of the Top 5 Airlines in the World by Airline Ratings. Headquartered in London, Virgin Atlantic employs over 9000 people worldwide and operates a fleet of 39 aircraft serving 26 destinations across four continents. Alongside joint venture partner Delta Air Lines they operate the leading transatlantic network – offering up to 39 flights per day between the UK and US with onward connections to over 200 US and international cities. This year Virgin Atlantic became the first airline in Europe to be fully Wi-Fi connected, and in 2019 will take delivery of their first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft – helping to transform the fleet into one of the quietest and most fuel-efficient in the sky. For more information visit: www.virginatlantic.com
About Elite Island Resorts
Elite Island Resorts is a collection of beachfront resorts in the Caribbean. Resorts include St. James’s Club & Villas, The Verandah Resort & Spa, The Pineapple Beach Club, and Galley Bay Resort & Spa in Antigua; St James’s Club Morgan Bay St. Lucia; Palm Island Resort in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and The Club Barbados Resort. www.eliteislandresorts.co.uk