Supermodel gets plum tourism job

Tourism CS Najib Balala and British supermodel Naomi Campbell at the PGA Baobab golf course in Vipingo Ridge, Mombasa. [Courtesy]

British supermodel Naomi Campbell has been appointed Magical Kenya’s International Tourism Ambassador.

The announcement was made by Tourism CS Najib Balala, who said Campbell will help market Kenya as an ideal tourism and travel destination to the world.

“We welcome the exciting news that Naomi Campbell will advocate for tourism and travel internationally for the Magical Kenya brand,” Balala said in a press statement.

The deal to sign Campbell was inked over the weekend in Malindi. He posted photos of himself and the supermodel touring different parts of the Coast.

“I am impressed with the world-class standard facilities at the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Baobab course located in Vipingo Ridge, the only golf course credited by the PGA in the whole of Africa. I invite golf professionals globally to visit the course to enjoy the experience,” said Campbell.

She has been in the country since last month, and it was reported that she arrived aboard a luxurious jet and stayed at the Lion in The Sun Resort that is owned by her ex-boyfriend and billionaire Flavio Briatore.

It was not the first time Campell was visiting Kenya. She has frequented the Coastal town of Malindi in previous years, and in 2019, caused a stir when she posed nude along the beaches for the British Vogue magazine.

Wrong perception

“It’s taken me a long time to feel right in my body — it’s something that has come with age, and has really only happened over the past few years,” she said in defence of the photoshoot.

Over the years, she has shown an interest in collaborating with Africans in different projects. Her latest involvement in African affairs was a fashion show that she attended a few weeks ago in Lagos, Nigeria. The event had different African designers showcasing uniquely African designs.

“There has, in the past, been the wrong perception about the continent and the creativity that comes out of it,” she said. “Right about now, everyone’s kind of got it, finally,” she said.

Campbell appearing at a modelling event wearing fabric with the Kenyan flag in February last year while attending the Paris fashion week was deemed by many as a way to solidify her admiration for the country.

But her appointment drew criticism from a section of Kenyans who felt the role should have been given to a Kenyan.

“What value will Campbell give? Why not choose people like Lupita and other notable Kenyans?” wrote Alphonse Kiama when the announcement was made.

Others said the ministry was not being transparent on the cost of securing Campbell as an ambassador and that it will be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Balala responded by saying Campbell’s appointment was a gain to the country and will not interfere with the domestic market.

“Naomi Campbell will be Magical Kenya’s International Tourism Ambassador. That doesn’t take away from our domestic market, it only strengthens it,” he said.

The appointment is a move to improve the tourism sector that took a beating after Covid-19 regulations limited local and international travels.

A report by the Tourism ministry indicated that there was a 72 per cent drop in tourists coming to the country between January and October last year.