Beauties gear up for finals

Friday, December 11, 2009

Johannesburg - Joburg will once again be in the international spotlight this weekend as 112 beauty queens from around the world take to the stage in a bid to be crowned the fairest of them all.

The finals of the Miss World pageant - an event sponsored by the City of Johannesburg - takes place on 12 December at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand and will be televised on SABC3. The glamorous affair starts at 5pm.

Contestants have come from around the world, including Botswana, Scotland and Panama, reports They arrived in the city of gold in mid-November and have participated in various activities as part of their month-long stay.

In Soweto, they visited the Hector Pieterson Museum, the Nelson Mandela Museum, the famous Vilakazi Street and Orlando West Park in Orlando.

They also visited Soccer City in Nasrec, where the opening and closing games of the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be played, and Joburg Zoo in Parkview, for the Miss World Children's Party.

On Saturday, 28 November, they had a Miss World Fashion Show final at Turbine Hall in Newtown.

The event, which is sponsored by the City, is costing about R45-million - but this sum not only includes hosting the finals; it also includes numerous activities and major publicity to raise international interest over an 18-month period, says the City's spokesperson, Virgil James.

"This means getting exposure at the right kinds of events to generate further publicity on the pageant.

"There are travelling and accommodation costs, radio and television advertising, space rentals and equipment and much more at events like the International Trade Bureau in Berlin and World Travel Market in London, James said.

Though it is costing the City a lot of money, there are a lot of benefits for Joburg from hosting such a big international event, he maintains.

"Events such as these promote Joburg and South Africa globally because by hosting them we are actually showing the rest of the world that we are capable of hosting such international events."

It has also created a number of jobs through hiring and promoting local fashion and jewellery designers, and using local people to transport the beauty queens around the city.

"Hosting Miss World has helped us and will continue to help us to positively influence perceptions about Joburg because you must remember that Joburg is stigmatised as a dangerous place and a criminal hub."

Before Miss World 2008, which was also held in Johannesburg, the city was ranked number 152 by the International Congress and Convention Association; it jumped to 120 after the event.

"The aim is to have Joburg ranked among the top 100 cities in the world," James explains.

Tickets for the show are available at Computicket outlets, on 083 915 8000 or (011) 340-8000, or through the Computicket website.

They cost from R780 to R1 440 each. For more information, visit the Miss World Joburg Tourism website or call the Joburg Tourism Company on (011) 327-8002.