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Balala defends British model appointment

Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has defended the appointment of English supermodel Naomi Campbell to become Magical Kenya International Ambassador, saying that the industry needs her for an  international outlook in the fashion space.

Balala said that the country is targeting international markets as a post Covid recovery strategy, adding that Naomi is a known and “expensive” brand who will do good for the tourism sector in the country as a brand Ambassador, being the advocate for tourism and travel internationally for the Magical Kenya brand.

Balala noted that despite her busy schedule, she has accepted to fly the Kenyan flag as the country seeks to revitalize tourism in post-COVID 19 which has wrecked countries economically.

“I know many have asked why we did not appoint Lupita Nyong’o the Brand Ambassador. We have tried reaching out to her in the last five years but her managers could not let us reach her,” revealed Balala.

Speaking today during his visit to the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre-Eastern Africa (GTRMC), Kenyatta University, Balala stated that just as they have appointed Eliud Kipchoge to target sports markets, Naomi Campbell will promote the fashion industry.

            “Campbell will help promote the marketing of Kenya as an ideal tourism and travel destination to the world as well,” said Balala.

On matters research, Balala lauded the Kenyatta University fraternity, especially the policy makers and researchers who did a research on the Impact of COVID 19 on the tourism sector, which gave the government a three action plan to put the tourism industry back on track.

 The research titled “COVID-19 and Tourism in Kenya, Impacts, Measures taken and Recovery Pathways” revealed that domestic tourism is the driving force of the travel and tourism sector in major economies globally accounting for 73 per cent in 2017 and 72.1 per cent in 2018.

Balala acknowledged the place of research in reviving the tourism sector in Kenya and said that they will support such related research, thanking GTRCMC Director Esther Munyiri for a job well done.

Balala further said currently, hotels only have a bed occupancy of just about 10 to 15 per cent because most countries such as the UK are still on a lockdown due to the pandemic and it would take up to 2023 for the sector to fully recover.

“The government has pumped approximately Sh. 1 billion from the Sh. 3billion allocated to hotels to help them in their recovery process,” said the CS.

“We are pursuing the Centre to roll out innovations and tool kits for best practices in the mitigation and recovery strategy,” he noted.

 Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe Isungu said that the ministry is already implementing the three pathways highlighted in the proposal as a mitigating measure and strategy towards the sector’s recovery.

Present was Tourism Chief Administrative Secretary and Chairman of National Tourism Crisis Steering Committee Joseph Boinett who said that the Centre is critical because it acts as a catalyst for jumpstarting the sector.

Others were Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Wainaina who noted the pandemic hit the whole world bringing about loss of livelihoods and unemployment and as such they are an interested party and will create a tourist resilient content to help in the recovery process.

“We will create an actionable framework to aid tourism stakeholders to mitigate the tourism crisis,” he said.

By Alice Gworo 

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