Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Defends Island of Great Exuma Post-Fyre Festival
“Exuma is one of the most beautiful and developed islands in The Bahamas and we in the Ministry are so disappointed that there have been false claims surrounding the island," reads the statement.
Fyre Festival organizers are facing a $100 million class-action lawsuit for fraud, misrepresentative advertising and breach of contract, arguing that refunding the ticket price is not enough to compensate for the debacle. Concertgoers paid a minimum of $1,200 for tickets to the promised social-media oasis and luxurious music experience and were woefully disappointed as the event was not as marketed and quickly descended into chaos before being canceled altogether.
The fest, which took place on the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas, was set to feature a lineup including big names like Blink-182, Major Lazer and Migos. But when guests arrived, instead of being greeted with A-list models and high-end amenities, they were faced with dirt fields, tents and plastic folding chairs. Attendees scrambled to leave the island, struggling to hail taxis and get on airplanes.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism released a statement Monday in defense of Great Exuma amid speculation that the island lacked the necessary infrastructure to host the Fyre Festival.
“Exuma is one of the most beautiful and developed islands in The Bahamas and we in the Ministry are so disappointed that there have been false claims surrounding the island," director general Joy Jibrilu said in the statement. "We want to ensure that all stakeholders and guests know of the development and infrastructural capacity of this island.”
Additionally, the ministry explained that Fyre Festival was originally meant to be held on Norman’s Cay, not Great Exuma. While Great Exuma itself is a well-developed island within the Bahamas, the festival was held in an undeveloped subdivision called Roker’s Point.
“The infrastructure on Great Exuma is second to none. The island has potable water, water and sewerage, Internet and cable television services, an electricity plant, a waste management system, a mini hospital, police officers, a local government and border patrol officers,” she said.
Read the full statement from the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism below.
Director General of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Joy Jibrilu, defended the island of Great Exuma amid reports from the organizers that it lacked the necessary infrastructure to host the Fyre Festival.
The Director General said it is important that visitors to The Bahamas, and especially to the Exumas, know the facts.
"Our first priority was to ensure the safe return of all Fyre Festival guests. Secondly, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism jealousy guards our brand and that of our 16 islands. As a result, we have been following every story and lead, as well as interviewing festival attendees in order to get as many viewpoints as possible. The organizers of the event, which was a private event, have readily admitted that they were in over their heads, and they have taken full responsibility for all that has transpired, and have issued a statement to this effect. The Ministry has been actively engaged with the international media in ensuring that the integrity of The Bahamas is maintained.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism will always look to work with organizations and events that will advance our destination, as we have with partners like the PGA, LPGA and IAAF. It is our goal to deliver world-class experiences to our visitors. The Bahamas is a destination that has successfully staged dozens of major events including the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, the IAAF World Relays and various regattas throughout the Islands of The Bahamas, just to name a few," she said.
The Director General added, "Exuma is one of the most beautiful and developed islands in The Bahamas and we in the Ministry are so disappointed that there have been false claims surrounding the island. We want to ensure that all stakeholders and guests know of the development and infrastructural capacity of this island."
Despite reports, the waters surrounding Great Exuma are not shark infested. Each year, thousands of guests enjoy the pristine waters of Exuma without incident. Compass Cay, which is in the northern Euxma chain, is a popular destination for tour boat operators and allows guests to swim with and feed nurse sharks.
Claims that the island of Great Exuma is a remote private cay with no infrastructure are also patently false.
The Fyre Festival organizers originally planned to hold their festival on Norman's Cay, a small private island in the Exuma chain. However, the venue was later changed to the island of Great Exuma. Exuma is made up of 365 cays and islands with the largest being Great Exuma.
The infrastructure on Great Exuma is second to none. The island has potable water, water and sewerage, Internet and cable television services, an electricity plant, a waste management system, a mini hospital, police officers, a local government and border patrol officers.
International flights arrive at the airport on Great Exuma daily, as the island is home to several high-end resorts, such as Sandals Emerald Bay, Grand Isle Resort and Spa, among many others including Hideaways at Palm Bay, the Exuma Beach Resort, Staniel Cay Yacht Club, February Point, Club Peace and Plenty and Palm Bay Beach Club.
The island is also an hour away from Miami via airplane.
Many American celebrities own private islands in the Exumas including Johnny Depp, David Copperfield and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, to name a few.
The organizers decided to host the Fyre Festival in an undeveloped subdivision community in Roker's Point. The area, which is on the beach, is directly opposite Grand Isle Resort and Spa and Sandals Emerald Bay.
While many vendors who assisted the organizers in staging the event are saying that they have yet to be paid, Fyre Festival co-founder Billy McFarland has assured the Ministry of Tourism that the vendors will be paid.
Director General Joy Jibrilu said a team from the Ministry of Tourism is on Exuma and is in regular contact with the Fyre team to ensure that all vendors are paid, and to determine the way forward.
The Director General noted that, even though Fyre Festival was a private event, once the MOT became aware of the event shortcomings, they did intervene to mitigate as much as possible any fallout, and in particular to try and secure the welfare of visitors who came in for the event. She pointed out that The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism has received commendation from both the promoters and guests for its efforts in this regard.
This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.