Fyre Festival Organizers Promise Refunds, Charitable Donations, 2018 VIP Passes

Festival co-founders Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule plan for next year after the festival's disastrous start.

Fyre Festival organizers say fans who attended the failed Exumas, Bahamas, festival will be refunded in full and given "free VIP passes to next year's festival."

That news brings little solace to Fyre Fest attendees who traveled to the Caribbean island paradise hoping to party at the Instagram-tastemaker VIP event, only to find themselves stuck on a half-built festival site with lackluster food, unfinished overnight accommodations, a cancellation by headliner Blink-182 and hours spent trying to escape the island at the tiny Exuma International Airport.

The cancellation was a blow to Fyre Festival organizers and raised serious doubts about the organization and planning for the lavish two-weekend festival. Headlined by the GOOD Music crew, including Tyga, Desiigner and Pusha T, Fyre Festival was announced with a buzzy Instagram video that showed models Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski sailing on a yacht and swimming off the waters of the tropical festival site, luring in fans to spend thousands of dollars on the promise of private beaches, pirate cays and six-figure accommodations.

Now that most fans have made it back home, festival co-founders Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule have released the following statement to Billboard, telling their side of the disastrous story and promising fans refunds for the thousands of dollars many spent on tickets.

Billy McFarland and Ja Rule started a partnership over a mutual interest in technology, the ocean, and rap music. This unique combination of interests led them to the idea that, through their combined passions, they could create a new type of music festival and experience on a remote island.

They simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get. They started by making a website and launching a viral campaign. Ja helped book talent, and they had hundreds of local Bahamians join in the effort. Suddenly, they found themselves transforming a small island and trying to build a festival. Thousands of people wanted to come. They were excited, but then the roadblocks started popping up.

As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up. So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.

The team was overwhelmed. The airport was jam packed. The buses couldn’t handle the load. And the wind from rough weather took down half of the tents on the morning our guests were scheduled to arrive. This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred.

Everyone was very concerned for our guests. They needed a place to sleep and everyone did their absolute best to rebuild. We took everyone to the beach and built as many tents and beds as fast as possible, but as more guests arrived, we were simply in over our heads. Ultimately, we didn’t think security could keep up, so we had to postpone the festival. The response to the postponement was immediate and intense. We had no other options this morning, so we began the process of getting guests quickly and safely back to Miami, which continues now. Our top priority as a company is to ensure the comfort and safe return home of all of our guests.

Then something amazing happened: Venues, bands, and people started contacting us and said they’d do anything to make this festival a reality and how they wanted to help. The support from the musical community has been overwhelming and we couldn’t be more humbled or inspired by this experience. People were rooting for us after the worst day we’ve ever had as a company. After speaking with our potential partners, we have decided to add more seasoned event experts to the 2018 Fyre Festival, which will take place at a United States beach venue.

All festivalgoers this year will be refunded in full. We will be working on refunds over the next few days and will be in touch directly with guests with more details. Also, all guests from this year will have free VIP passes to next year’s festival.

We’re grateful for the Bahamian Government and The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism for their assistance during this challenging time — their efforts have been exemplary. We want to thank the people of the Bahamas for their support and for graciously allowing us the privilege of visiting their islands. We apologize for any inconvenience the past 24 hours has caused and we look forward to making a considerable donation to the Bahamas Red Cross Society as part of our initiatives. We need to make this right. And once we make this right, then we will put on the dream festival we sought to have since the inception of Fyre.

Thank you for all your continued patience and understanding. We apologize for what all of our guests and staff went through over the last 24 hours and will work tirelessly to make this right. Please check our official social media channels (@fyrefestival) for further important updates.

From Billy and the Fyre Festival Team.

This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.

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