The former Miss Waa Girls High School, Judith Liona, is the newly crowned Miss Lamu Tourism 2022.
The 23-year-old was declared winner in the hotly contested beauty pageant held at the Majlis Hotel in Manda Island, Lamu County, on Sunday night.
The contest attracted 12 participants, who catwalked on the stage in front of five judges, including previous Miss Lamu Tourism winners.
Ms Liona, the firstborn in a family of seven and a resident of Langoni, Lamu town, said she drew support from her parents and siblings.
The hospitality management student at Lamu Polytechnic told Nation.Africa that it was her first time participating in the Lamu beauty pageant.
Ms Liona had contested and won Kwale’s Miss Waa Girls beauty pageant when she was in Form Three in 2016.
After she was crowned the 2022 Miss Lamu Tourism, Ms Liona dedicated her success and title to promoting peace and better lives for young people in the county.
“I am happy to have won this crucial contest. As a tourism ambassador, I will strive to promote tourism in Lamu. Lamu is a key tourist destination on the Coast and in Kenya as a whole,” she said.
“We’ve many tourism products to offer here, ranging from the rich wildlife in Boni Dodori to the many historical sites such as Takwa, Pate, and the Lamu Old Town Unesco World Heritage site, among others. I am now focused on using my new platform to market our beautiful Lamu County and Kenya,” Ms Liona said.
Besides Miss Tourism, the contest also included categories such as Miss Culture and Miss Environment, key components that promote Kenyan tourism globally.
Barka Nagib, 22, won Miss Lamu Culture 2022, while Khadija Mohamed,21, took the Miss Environment 2022 category.
On the men’s side, Salim Mohamed, 22, won Mr Tourism Lamu 2022, while Mohamed Ali, 21, took the Mr Lamu County 2022 category.
Boosting the tourism industry
“I will cooperate with Miss Lamu Tourism and the rest to ensure Lamu tourism thrives,” said Mr Salim.
Lamu Tourism Association deputy chair Fridah Njeri said such events are held with the key objective of boosting the tourism industry and bringing cohesion among communities in the region.
Ms Njeri said the event is among key efforts being made in Lamu to improve tourism.
“We’ve had events like Maulid, Yoga, fishing competition and the recently concluded Lamu Cultural Festival that have already increased the number of tourists coming to Lamu,” she said.
“I am happy that we've organised the Lamu beauty pageant. This event and many others are a key pillar to boosting the image of Lamu and promoting tourism.”
Jennifer Wairimu Waruingi (alias Waridi Kenya), the first Miss Tourism Kenya Lamu County in 2016, who is also the main trainer for the models, said she was humbled to have produced beauty queens who currently own fashion lines and makeup brands, among others.
But Ms Wairimu urged the county government to empower the newly crowned Miss Tourism, Mr Tourism, Mr Lamu, Miss Environment, and Miss Culture by using them as their ambassadors to promote tourism.
“I want to empower women positively and to make them brands out there. My initiative and what drives me most is ‘clean modelling’,” she said.
“This is to create awareness that girls are not sexual objects but modelling is a talent and career that can create job opportunities, and hence, everyone should be given an opportunity.”
She added: “Now that the county government didn’t support us financially, we pray that they work with us to improve and promote Lamu tourism.”
This year’s beauty pageant was the fourth edition.
Ms Wairimu won in 2016, Nazma Abbas (2018), Anne Wamuyu (2020), and Ms Liona this year.
Kenyan-born artist Mohammed Ali Said, popularly known as Masauti, graced the occasion.
The event was organised by Waridi Kenya in conjunction with other former Miss Lamu Tourism winners, the Lamu Floating Bar and Restaurant and Majlis Hotel, which provided the venue for the event, Dudu Villa, which provided accommodation for the contestants, and the Kenya Modelling and Beauty Academy, which trained the participants for free.