Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: May 13, 2019

Fly Away and discover there’s more to The Bahamas


Although Lenny Kravitz usually flies under the radar in Eleuthera, the director general of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation said the Bahamian-American musician agreed to take part in its latest marketing campaign, aptly named Fly Away, because the Grammy-Award winning hit song was both written in and inspired by the destination.

“He said, that song, I pulled over on the side of the road one day stunned by the beauty of Bahamas and I wrote that song like that,” Joy Jibrilu told Canadian Travel Press ahead of the Canadian reveal for the new campaign. “It’s just incredible to have Lenny as a partner. He’s lived in The Bahamas for over 30 years. It’s a place where when he talks about it, he feels most at home, he can relax, no one cares who he is. He’s been so inspired by The Bahamas, it is so much in his DNA. His mother is Bahamian so from the age of three, he was sent every summer and every Christmas to The Bahamas.”

And while Kravitz is at the forefront of the television commercial and supporting marketing campaign, the multi-channel creative is all about revealing the authentic spirit of The Bahamas as a destination of adventure and discovery through the eyes of local people.

“We brainstormed and we said what is it that makes The Bahamas so special and unique? And without exception every single person talked about the colours of our waters, and our people,” she said. “We wanted to showcase the beauty of The Bahamas, its natural beauty, its diversity and we wanted Bahamians to tell their stories. This new campaign is a completely different switch, where Bahamians are proudly the storytellers, letting the world know why they love The Bahamas and it’s not so much to say come because I love it, it’s to say this is who I am and this is what I do, and it’s just been so effective.”

Joy Jibrilu, director general of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, at the Toronto launch event for the new Fly Away campaign

Geared at showcasing the diversity of its key 16 islands, one of the newly released supporting digital videos features Lady Di, a personable pineapple farmer from Eleuthera, who has become a bit of a viral sensation.

“When she told her story and we launched the small video, we had well over a million and a half hits. People said, ‘we want to visit her, we want to go to that place.’ She’s the most unassuming woman you’ll ever meet,” she said. “It’s the authentic, the genuine, The Bahamas. And that’s what especially young people they want to see, they want to connect to.”

Paul Strachan, of the Bahamas Tourist Office in Toronto, said the new campaign, “represents not only the edgy independence of the Bahamian people but also speaks to those who travel to our islands for our natural beauty.”

Bahamian Rhapsody
Jibrilu pointed out that travel agents are “absolutely vital” to the destination and spreading awareness of its 16 different islands.

“For many people, if I mention Exuma, Eleuthera, Abaco – they’re going to say, ‘who? What? Where?’ ” she said. “If our travel agents are not informed, if they don’t know the destination, these are places we can never ever sell. We cannot express enough thanks to the relationship we do have with travel agents and the jobs that they do.”

She noted the destination is also getting a Canadian boost from the HGTV show Island of Bryan, which features Bryan Baeumler and his wife Sarah as they rebuild and restore a run-down beachfront resort on a remote island in The Bahamas, Andros.

“There’s more than Nassau and Paradise Island,” she said. “A lot of Canadians know already about Exuma, we have this famous little feature in Exuma called swimming pigs, many people they want to go and experience that. It’s important for our travel agents to understand the options so we have to do all that we can to get them to experience these islands so that they in turn can educate their clients.”

After the US, she said Canada is the largest source market for The Bahamas.

“We have to drill deeper than that. What people don’t understand is that Americans come on average for 3.6 nights, and a Canadian is going to come for eight to ten days. Americans will come to Nassau, Canadians go to what we call the out islands. In fact, so often, that then results in them becoming second home owners, and they come and spend long periods of time for the winter. They get immersed in the culture.”

Canadian stop-over visits to The Bahamas are strong, with Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism and Aviation for The Government of The Bahamas, noting a 14.4% increase in arrivals
in 2018.

“The most incredible thing about the Bahamas is that it’s not one single destination, it’s 16 different destinations,” he said. “Each island has a unique history, a unique culture, a unique feel, the people are different, all wonderful, friendly.”

Mixologist Marv Cunningham

D’Aguilar said Kravitz, who is also known for his role in the Hunger Games series and who has a home in Eleuthera, was a “natural fit,” for the marketing endeavour. Kravitz is featured in the video, sharing his personal connection to the destination and what he thinks makes it special.

Friendly competition
In terms of accommodation, Jibrilu said it’s been a very good time for the destination. Most recently, The Bahamas saw the long-awaited completion of Baha Mar, a $4 billion investment.

“There is so much going on, whether you want something big in terms of hotels,” she said. “Baha Mar, this hotel, was talked about for many, many years, and it opened to the most positive reviews, so all that wait has been really worth it. Really nice brands, Grand Hyatt, SLS, Rosewood, and what that has caused is all the other properties have kind of upped their game, they’ve seen competition coming, that’s been the best thing that could happen. So in Nassau-Paradise Island, you just see the emergence of everyone just getting out there, renovating, rejuvenating, re-branding, including Atlantis, and we’ve seen a lot of smaller boutique hotels.”

As for 2019, she says arrivals are already off to a strong start.

“The fact that it’s been cold and miserable for so long in Canada, that works well for us,” she said, smiling.

Another thriving part of tourism is its food scene.

“Food is huge in The Bahamas, we’re real foodies,” she said. “Seafood, of course is a must, and it’s fresh, our waters abound with seafood. There is a delicacy, it’s called conch, it’s a shellfish, and Bahamians, they eat conch in every which way. You can fry it, you can boil it, you can stew it, you can have it in soup, you can have it in fritters. It’s so tasty, a delicious dish, conch salad, is a must. And if you come to The Bahamas and you haven’t had conch fritters and conch salad, you haven’t had a Bahamian experience.”

Back to the global campaign, she hopes the key takeaways are that travellers gain a deeper understanding of The Bahamas, and perhaps even begin to know its 16 islands by name.

Supporting digital content at aims to raise awareness of the destination’s many islands, including Freeport, The Abacos, The Exumas, Andros, Bimini, The Berry Islands, Cat Island, Harbour Island and Eleuthera, Long Island, San Salvador, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Acklins, Nassau-Paradise Island and Crooked Island. Along with Lady Di, a.k.a. “Eleuthera’s Pineapple Lady,” other features highlighting uniquely Bahamian experiences include Junkanoo, and the popular People-to-People program, which matches visitors with local hosts.

“The Bahamas is more than just Nassau and Paradise Island. The Bahamas is more than just perhaps big resorts,” she said.

“It’s about people, there is a strong culture, spectacular beauty and diversity, I hope people can identify these islands and understand there is so much more to The Bahamas than perhaps they would have thought originally.”

(Photo below: The Bahamian delegation on hand at Bisha Hotel)