Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala has defended the decision to appoint British supermodel Naomi Campbell as Magical Kenya’s international tourism ambassador.
The move caused outrage among a section of Kenyans, who said the Tourism Ministry should have, instead, picked award-winning Kenyan Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong'o.
Defending the decision on Thursday, CS Balala said his ministry was targeting specific markets and industries. He added that they have been trying to get in touch with Lupita for the past five years in vain.
"I know everybody is asking why not Lupita. Lupita has commitments and her managers cannot allow us to access her. We’ve spent the last five years looking for Lupita," CS Balala said while speaking at Kenyatta University.
Campbell, 50, is expected to help market Kenya as an ideal tourism and travel destination.
“We welcome the exciting news that Naomi Campbell will advocate for tourism and travel internationally for the Magical Kenya brand,” Balala said last week.
Campbell, who has been vacationing in Kenya since mid-December, commended the government for improving infrastructure at the Coast including the upgrading of Malindi Airport to international standards, saying this will boost tourism in the region.
“I am also impressed with the world-class standard facilities at the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Baobab course located in Vipingo Ridge, the only golf course accredited by the PGA in the whole of Africa. I invite golf professionals globally to visit the course to enjoy the experience,” she said.
She has been staying at Billionaire Resort in Malindi, Kilifi County since she arrived in the country on December 15th.
Her arrival was seen as a major boost to the tourism sector, which has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.