Naomi Campbell's new role as Kenya's tourism ambassador sparks backlash

The British supermodel's appointment has divided fans, with some calling for a Kenyan national to promote the country's travel gems

Supermodel Naomi Campbell will act as Kenya's newest tourism ambassador. Twitter / Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife Kenya
Supermodel Naomi Campbell will act as Kenya's newest tourism ambassador. Twitter / Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife Kenya

She's known for showcasing the wares of the world's most famous fashion designers, but Naomi Campbell is set to shine a light on the travel opportunities in Kenya in her latest role.

The British supermodel has been tapped as the African nation's newest tourism ambassador, Kenya's Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife announced on Tuesday, January 12.

However, the news divided commenters on social media, with many querying why a personality from the region had not been hired to promote the country.

Campbell, 50, who is of Jamaican descent, will highlight Kenya as an "ideal tourism and travel destination", according to a release from the ministry.

"We welcome the exciting news that Naomi Campbell will advocate tourism and travel internationally for the Magical Kenya brand," Najib Balala, cabinet secretary for tourism, said.

The tourism sector has been hard hit around the globe by the coronavirus pandemic, with international arrivals to Kenya dropping by 72 per cent in the first 10 months of 2020, Balala revealed last month.

Following the news of Campbell's ambassadorship, social media users questioned the model's ties to the region.

"This demonstrates that you do not have confidence in Kenyans to promote their country," one Twitter user wrote. "Why do you have to import a British [person] to promote tourism for Kenya?"

"So not one Kenyan could fit this position? Do y'all even have Kenyan 'tourism' ambassadors?" asked another.

Others called for Mexican-Kenyan Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o to replace Campbell.

"Lupita represents the Kenyanness in us better. Has current global recognition," one Twitter user replied.

Other commenters, however, cited the model's repeated visits to Kenya as a testament to her love for the nation.

"She is a perfect fit with lots of passion for our country and has demonstrated it before," a Twitter user commented.

"It's just a voluntary role given to celebrities to market Kenya in their countries. No big deal," another commenter added.

Following the debate, Balala confirmed that Campbell would be the country's international tourism ambassador.

"That doesn't take away from our domestic market, it only strengthens it," he tweeted.

Campbell has not yet publicly addressed the role, nor the backlash surrounding it.


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Updated: January 13, 2021 05:25 PM


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