NASSAU, BAHAMAS – On the heels of the release of two separate documentaries that placed international attention on The Bahamas, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said while the Ministry of Tourism was not complicit in the failed festival, it did affect the country’s reputation.
“It certainly caused the country some reputational damage, and so moving forward, we really have to be mindful of that and don’t accept everybody willingly through the door they came in.
“Maybe the previous minister, probably in his exuberance to make the deal, went all in and in hindsight that was a mistake,” said D’Aguilar before heading to Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
A documentary on the failed Fyre Festival initially aired on Hulu and later on Netflix.
The festival was expected to take place in April 2017 on Great Exuma, but as planning flopped, the festival never happened.
Hundreds of tourists who had already arrived on the island had no living accommodations and their expectations, based on ads that aired on social media to promote the festival, were never met.
Festival founder, Bill McFarland was sentenced last October to six years in federal prison for fraud. He admitted to defrauding lenders out of $26 million, for what was sold to investors and guests as the “cultural experience of the decade”.
McFarland also admitted to selling more than $100,000 worth of fake tickets to exclusive events while on bail pending trial for the Fyre Festival scam.
A couple was also featured on the Netflix series, Maryann Rolle and her husband, Elvin Rolle, who found themselves in great debt after preparing food for the visitors and paying her staff out of pockets.
Yesterday, D’Aguilar said the Ministry of Tourism played its part to facilitate the event.
“I think they did what they were supposed to do, which was to facilitate the event, in terms of customs and importation and licensing and all of that. We do that all the time for many projects. Unfortunately, a greater level of due diligence should have been done to ensure that an issue like this would not have gotten so far,” D’Aguilar said.