Balala picks British model as Kenya’s tourism envoy

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 00:00 | By
Tourism and Wildlife CS Najib Balala and Naomi Campbell at the PGA Baobab course in Vipingo Ridge, Mombasa. Photo/Courtesy

Kenya has enlisted the services of super model Naomi Campbell as Magical Kenya International Tuorism Ambassador to tap high value tourists and shore up numbers through her brand which comes with over nine million social media followers.

Though details of the engagement are still unavailable, Kenya’s Covid-19 battered tourism sector stands to gain immensely from Campbell’s circle of rich and influential individuals, who tour the world every year.

A dispatch from the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife said: “She will help promote the marketing of 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” said Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, after meeting the model yesterday.

The 51-year old who is very active on social media where she commands a huge following has been hosting famous friends like Serena Williams, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Anna Wintour on her YouTube miniseries, No Filter With Naomi since the course of the Covid-induced social distancing began.

In addition to her modelling career, Campbell has other ventures which include an R&B-pop studio album and several acting appearances in film and television, such as the modelling-competition reality showThe Face and its international offshoots, all of which can act as platforms to market destination Kenya.

A familiar face in Mombasa County, Naomi has been in Kenya since December 15 and is residing at the exclusive Billionaire Resort- a luxurious complex reportedly owned by her ex, Italian businessman and former Formula One team executive, Flavio Briatore.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has traditionally relied on road shows and international fair to market the country’s leading products - safari, beach and wildlife- internationally. 

It has also tapped into the meetings, incentives, conferencing and events (MICE) taking advantage of Nairobi’s superior infrastructure in the region and headquaters to that attracts international corporate conglomerates.

The enlisting of Campbell is consistent with Balala’s challenge to the agency to formulate new marketing strategies that can guarantee the tourism sector’s future, especially through the use of digital marketing.

The sector, which was targeting to generate Sh189 billion in 2020/21, Sh22 billion more than what they collected in 2019, is among the worst-hit sector by the pandemic, losing Sh80 billion between February and June 2020.

Record holder

Last year, Magical Kenya ropped in World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge as its Sports Ambassador , and is set to be marketing the country during Magical Kenya Open events, Ladies European golf tournament in January 2021, Kip Keino Classic (September 26), the World Rally Championship Safari Rally (2021) and World Athletics U20 championships (August 17-22, 2021).

It is a tourist package that also received the endorsement of Campbell. 

While meeting Balala over the weekend, she put her stamp of approval on the Rea Vipingo-based Professional Golf Association (PGA) Baobab course, extending invitations to professional golfers to use the course.

“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 in a statement.

By snapping up Campbell, Kenya is following in the footsteps of its regional partner, Rwanda, which penned two promotional deals with European football giants, UK’s Arsenal and France’s PSG that have boosted the East African country’s tourism revenues.

Controversial at its launch, the three-year, £30 million Arsenal deal attracting 35 million eyeballs on the Arsenal jersey sleeve worldwide has lifted overall tourism numbers in Rwanda by eight per cent, according to Rwanda officials. 

“Before the partnership was signed, 71 per cent of the millions of Arsenal fans worldwide did not consider Rwanda a tourist destination, at the end of the first year of the partnership, half of them considered Rwanda a destination to visit,” said Belise Kariza, head of Rwanda Development Board tourism department.

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