UB40 members urge tourists to return to Caribbean to help with post-hurricane recovery effort

It was a Top 10 hit back in 1998; and now, UB40's Come Back Darling is making a comeback.

Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue have released a new music video for the much-loved song as part of a campaign to encourage tourists to return to the Caribbean after a particularly harsh hurricane season.

The trio - all members of the Birmingham-based band's original line-up, still performing together - travelled to Antigua to film the video.

Antigua escaped major damage itself but is now struggling to help those on its sister island of Barbuda, where around 90 per cent of buildings were flattened by two devastating hurricanes in as many weeks back in September.

  • Full video at the bottom of the article
90% of buildings on Barbuda were destroyed. Credit: ITV News

"The Caribbean is hallowed ground for us," Campbell told ITV Central.

"We've been coming here since 1980 - basically since we could afford to come here, we did, because we were into reggae.

"So we jumped at the chance to be involved in this project, to encourage people to return here. Antigua is still open, other islands are still open - people shouldn't be put off because of what happened in other areas."

Hurricane Irma was the strongest Atlantic storm to hit in more than a decade - and hot on its heels was Hurricane Maria.

The band members told ITV Central they 'jumped at the chance' to be part of the campaign. Credit: ITV Central

"The thing is, hurricanes are cyclical - they happen like this every few years," Astro explained.

"And they will bounce back. But the best way we can help, the best way anyone can help, is by tourists coming here and supporting them.

"That's how these islands survive."

The managing director of Virgin Holidays, Joe Thompson, revealed they had seen a "significant dip" in bookings following coverage of the damage caused by the hurricanes.

Come Back Darling was a Top 10 hit in 1998.

"There was so much coverage of the damage, that I think - understandably - there's a misconception among people that huge amounts of the Caribbean are off-limits when it comes to holidays," he said.

"That's just not the case - many places are very much still open for business."

  • Tourism is worth some £27 billion to the Caribbean economy
  • Last year alone, 29 million people visited the region from around the world
  • But a survey of British holidaymakers suggests that number could dip by up to 2%
  • That would mean a potential loss of income totalling £207 million

The video was filmed in just a few days, culminating in a private party offering people in Antigua the chance to be part of the finished product.

Antigua escaped major damage in the hurricanes - but it is now trying to rebuild its sister island of Barbuda. Credit: ITV Central

Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister, Gaston Browne - himself a big UB40 fan - said the help was very welcome.

"It's wonderful. UB40 is a very strong brand, and very well loved in the Caribbean," he said.

"What we're seeking to do is to encourage the international community to encourage visitors to return here.

"That's really the best way people can help us rebuild Barbuda."

  • Watch the video in full here: