Former Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere (right) crowns new Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters at the Miss Universe pageant Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, (Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 in the Philippines) in Las Vegas. (Photo by JOHN LOCHER / AP)
It’s an early Christmas treat for pageant fans in the country as Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters kicks off her reign with a four-day visit to the Philippines starting on Wednesday.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo on Monday said Nel-Peters would be joined by 14 other beauty queens, including her predecessor, Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere, as she tours the country’s scenic spots just a week after winning the crown.
Since the Philippines begged off from hosting the pageant in November, Teo said the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) asked if it was possible for Nel-Peters and the other candidates to travel around the country.
“We said, of course. They’re like Philippine ambassadors [because] when they go back to their country they will help us promote our country, especially with their large following [on social media],” Teo said.
Nel-Peters’ visit to the country comes just more than a week after she bested 91 other candidates in the pageant held at Las Vegas, Nevada. She and the other beauty queens are expected to arrive in Manila on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Nel-Peters and her court will tour Rizal Park and the historic walled city of Intramuros.
On Thursday, they will be featured in a charity ball at Solaire Resort and Casino in Pasay City, and would be guests at the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) Christmas party. The beauty queens would also pay President Duterte a courtesy visit on the same day, the DOT said.
On Friday, the beauty queens will be divided into three groups for their tour around the country. Nel-Peters will visit Batanes, together with Miss USA, Miss India, Miss Singapore and Miss Spain.
Mittenaere will lead the Bohol group composed of Miss Russia, Miss Netherlands, Miss South Korea and Miss Canada.
Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters will join her fellow candidates from China, Italy, Great Britain and Malaysia in touring Camiguin.
Teo said these locations were chosen since these were not visited by the Miss Universe 2016 candidates in January. She said they also specifically asked MUO for the candidates, since their countries are key and emerging markets for the Philippine tourism industry.
On their last night in the country, the ladies will be featured in Renee Salud’s fashion show at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, showcasing the country’s indigenous weaves.
Teo said that with the visit of the beauty queens this holiday season, the DOT hoped it could help bring in more tourists in the country, and drive more interest in their “Bring Home A Friend” campaign.
Meanwhile, Teo said that this early, the MUO has already expressed interest in the country playing host again to the annual beauty tilt.
PH as host anew
“[T]hey already told us that they wanted us to host again next year,” Teo told reporters.
However, she noted that for this to happen she would have to get Mr. Duterte’s approval.
In January, the Philippines hosted the 2016 edition of Miss Universe. Teo said the country begged off from hosting the pageant again in November, as it coincided with other international events in Manila, such as the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and related meetings.
According to Teo, the MUO said Manila’s hosting of the Miss Universe in January was “the best so far.”