NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The largest shareowner of Exuma’s luxurious Grand Isle property is noting one upside of the doomed Fyre Festival documentary which shed a negative light on the island of Exuma: higher occupancy rates.
Initially worried that the island’s tourism product would take a hit from the popularity of the Netflix and Hulu documentaries highlighting the fraud of the infamous Fyre Festival, investor Peter Nicholson now attributes a significant portion of recent surges in travel bookings to the exposure granted in the films.
“Money was lost and stolen and also fraud all [shown] in the Netflix documentary that reached well over one million people, so we were all concerned about this being a black mark on The Bahamas, and in particular, Exuma,” Nicholson told Eyewitness Business.
“We were worried it was going to hurt, but we started getting guests at Grand Isle the week after the Fyre Fest documentary aired and they’ve been showing up ever since.
“We’re almost completely full until April.
“I think the brand is surviving the Fyre Festival and I’m hearing that people who knew nothing about Exuma are now interested in coming down and seeing the beauty of it for themselves.”
It’s a turnaround of events for the southern island as the Grand Isle property is now operating at nearly 70 per cent occupancy, two years after the event scheduled for April and May of 2017 failed.
The festival organizers sought to put the island – known for its swimming pigs and connection to drug lord Pablo Escobar – on the map as the new locale for trendy millennials looking to party round the clock with celebrities and models. But it seems where the festival failed, the documentary has succeeded, giving the Family Islands the kind of marketing exposure the Ministry of Tourism could not buy – that’s even with a multi-million dollar campaign making the rounds featuring a musical rock star island-hopping and hoping to grab the world’s attention.
Nicholson laments that the event – where rock band Blink 182 was set to headline – was never able to realize the potential success it could have with the right management in place.
“We only wanted them to be successful and we were prepared to we roll up our sleeves and get it done,” he added. “If [festival organizer Billy McFarland] had pulled it off and added millions of visitors to the islands we would have been good with that, but oddly enough, because it was a global flow and not just a quasi-flop either with wealthy millennials homeless and helpless…we have some pockets opening up for us here in Exuma.”
Grand Isle last week opened up its new 30,000-square-foot 23 North Beach Club that will host many offerings appealing not just to well-heeled visitors, but also the very same millennial group who lost out on a chance to enjoy the Exumas.