Soon after British supermodel Naomi Campbell was unveiled as Kenya’s International Tourism Ambassador on Tuesday, January 12th, rumours began swirling on social media that she would be earning a cool Ksh10 million for the ceremonial assignment. The reports, and figure, have turned out to be false as the Ministry of Tourism has dismissed the assertions.
The figure was circulated on social media by users who questioned why Campbell was chosen for the role over local talents with international appeal, such as Tik Tok star Elsa Majimbo and Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong’o.
Others, however, backed the appointment touting her global profile as an ideal to attract high-spending international travelers. Some claimed to have information that Naomi would be paid $100,000 (Ksh10 million) a month in the role, further fueling negative sentiment against the appointment.
The claims were widely circulated on platforms including Twitter and Facebook as well as Whatsapp, with more allegations surfacing that the figure was possibly higher.
Independent fact-checking by Business Today has, however, confirmed that the claims are not authentic.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary issued this clarification: “We have a framework to work around her and she accepted to do it for free. She offered herself because of her love and commitment to Kenya. We are now working on the details on how to use her to promote the destination.”
Another Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) official, who spoke on condition of anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the partnership, stated that the collaboration was based on mutual interests and “love for the country”.
The source claimed that Campbell, a frequent visitor to Kenya for the past 15 years, agreed to lend her profile to draw more attention to the country after a meeting with Tourism CS Najib Balala, and was not expected to receive monthly remuneration.
“She isn’t being paid at all, let alone Ksh10 million a month,” said the official. “This is someone who is always in Kenya, is involved in several programs here and genuinely loves the country. She visits Malindi every year and knows so many people here so to her it’s like a second home.”
Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) Chairman Mohammed Hersi also said Campbell was not being paid. “Naomi Campbell is equally not affordable and I will tell you for free that she is doing all this pro bono for the love she has for Malindi and Kenya,” said Hersi. “If we were to pay Naomi she would wipe a good chunk of our destination marketing budget.”
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Balala led discussions that saw Campbell agree to become the international tourism ambassador. The 50-year-old model spent the second weekend of January 2021 at the Coast, at destinations including the PGA-accredited Baobab Course at Vipingo Ridge, Kilifi County.
Details of what the partnership entails, including its duration, however, remained undisclosed with the Tourism Ministry.
Hersi argued that given Kenya’s limited marketing budget, Campbell’s deal was ideal. “I respect the Kenya Tourism Board for stretching that $$$ to the limit to deliver hence any star who is willing and ready to adopt Kenya and help us promote Magical Kenya is more than welcome.”
Business Today found that no figures or details of her remuneration have been released making reports that Campbell would be earning Ksh10 million false.
[ This story was produced by Business Today in partnership with Code for Africa’s iLAB data journalism programme, with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie ]