Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.
By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURSIM Minister Obie Wilchcombe yesterday denied that the government has “banned” Fyre Festival organisers from ever hosting events in the Bahamas again.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Wilchcombe said while the event “did not go as planned” the individuals involved have attempted to “resolve all outstanding matters” internationally and locally.
Mr Wilchcombe was responding to an article posted on businessinsider.com, which referred to a report from American entertainment and gossip website TMZ.com. That report alleged that the organisers of the failed festival have been banned from doing repeat business in the Bahamas, citing sources at the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
According to TMZ, the Ministry of Tourism also “plans to be more strict when vetting future festivals to be planned there, and will check in with organisers several times in the process.”
“We have not banned them,” Mr Wilchcombe said on Tuesday.
“No, that has not happened. The individuals ran into a logistical nightmare and bit off more than they could chew. What they were trying to achieve was not able to be done in the time line that they wanted and they still tried to make it work despite many issues.
“We are continuing to work with them and trying as best as we can to ensure this type of thing does not happen again, but we do not hold any ill feelings toward the individuals. There was some outrage and negative feedback, and the organiser will lose some credibility, but hopefully they will be able to fight it off and work to get it back to where they regain their credibility.”
The Fyre Festival, a much-hyped luxury music event in Exuma with tickets costing up to $12,000, was branded a “disaster” and postponed after reports that infrastructure and accommodation was not ready, security was poor, flights were cancelled and passengers stranded.
Headline performers cancelled their performances and the Ministry of Tourism offered a “heartfelt apology” in expressing its disappointment for the “total disorganisation and chaos.”
The ministry, while saying it was not an official sponsor of the private event, said it was lending its support to help with the safe return of all Fyre Festival visitors.
Fyre Festival, co-organised by American rap artist Jeffrey “Ja Rule” Atkins, promised a “cultural moment created from a blend of music, art and food” over two weekends in Great Exuma. Festival organisers claimed they set out “to provide a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience on the islands of the Exumas” and had billed it along the lines of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in southern California.
Tickets had included a flight from Miami, a stay in a “geodesic dome” and activities including yoga and kayaking. Pre-publicity suggested festival-goers could pay up to $100,000 to mingle with models and be ferried around by private yachts and planes.
But visitors described the event as a “complete disaster” and it attracted unflattering international media coverage. William Finley, of North Carolina, posted on social media that he and his friends had arrived to find “disaster tent city” when searching for their accommodation. One British visitor said the festival site “was worse than a refugee camp.”
There were also complaints of missing luggage, unsatisfactory catered food, fears for people’s safety, piles of garbage, stray dogs and looting of alcohol.
The organisers have since been hit with a $100 million class action lawsuit.
The complaint was filed Sunday in California and alleges fraud and breach of contract by Ja Rule, co-organiser Billy McFarland and Fyre Media Inc.