UB40 lead new campaign to encourage tourists back to the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma

Tourism to the region has dropped dramatically since September's hurricanes

Carolyn Boyd
Thursday 14 December 2017 09:44
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Virgin advertise the Caribbean with the help of UB40

One of the UK’s most successful reggae bands is fronting a new campaign to encourage tourists back to the Caribbean after three major hurricanes ripped through it in September.

British pop and reggae legends UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue – a spin-off from the original UB40 – have shot a new video to their 1998 hit, Come Back Darling.

The video was entirely shot in Antigua, and gives new meaning to lines such as “Don't you know, I need you badly” and “Please return and bring me happiness”.

The campaign – spearheaded by Virgin Holidays – aims to show that the islands are open for business, after a terrible September which saw hurricanes Irma José and Maria rip through the area.

New research shows that a third of UK travellers are less likely to visit the region because of the belief that every Caribbean island is storm-damaged. In fact, while many are still picking up the pieces after they were flattened, others were hardly touched.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in in Antigua and Barbuda. While Barbuda was left ruined by Irma’s 185mph winds, its nearby sister island was left almost unscathed. It still, however, has been affected by the decline in tourism.

The Caribbean is always Ali Campbell's holiday pick

British visitor numbers in Antigua were down 14 per cent in November compared to 2016. With tourism accounting for more than 60 per cent of the country’s GDP, authorities are keen to put the record straight.

In Antigua last week to film a new video for the song, lead singer Ali Campbell told The Independent: “Why wouldn’t you come here? You’d be stupid to go anywhere else. That’s how I feel. When I do get the chance to go away on vacation, the Caribbean is my choice.”

Both Prime Minister Gaston Brown and Minister for Tourism Henry Charles Fernandez attended the video’s filming at the iconic Mary’s Shack bar.

Mr Fernandez told The Independent: “We 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.”

Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue take in the views

Joe Thompson, Managing Director of Virgin Holidays, said: “We knew that a vast majority of the properties we work with were fully open for visitors.

“When you know that so many of the economies in the Caribbean are very dependent on tourism, one of the best ways we can support this is getting that message out there. The Caribbean is fully open for business.”

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