The government will not spend a centavo for the holding of the Miss Universe pageant in the country in January next year, Toursim Secretary Wanda Teo said.
Former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson will shoulder the expenses, Teo told members of the House of Representatives Wednesday night. Teo attended the budget deliberations of the Committee on Appropriations panel.
The Tourism department is asking a P2.4 billion budget for next year.
“The government won’t spend any money on that. It’s the group of Chavit Singson that’s handling the project and we’re on top of it. I promised the President that no money will be spent,” she told lawmakers.
The Philippines is set to hold the pageant on January 30, 2017, allowing reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach to pass her crown before an adoring home crowd.
The Miss Universe is considered the most prestigious of all beauty pageants and is expected to bring in $11 million or P510 million in revenues for the Philippines.
The Tourism department said Singson’s group will have a share of the expected revenue.
“We have no projected number of tourists yet, but we were informed by the Miss Universe organization that 97 contestants will complete in the pageant and each would bring along 50 guests,” Teo said.
“So far, we’ve already talked to Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Vigan and Batangas [as possible hosts for the pageant]. If Albay is willing to host us, then we’ll definitely put that in the list since we would like to feature more of the provinces outside Metro Manila,” Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro, daughter of former Vice President Noli de Castro, said in response to the appeal of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman to consider his province as pageant host.
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said the country’s hosting of the Miss Universe pageant should accelerate the renovation of airports and other tourism infrastructure.
“The first and last place that a tourist sees is the airport. We have to prioritize the improvement of our airport facilities if we expect more jobs and tourists to fly in,” Vilafuerte said in a statement.
The Philippines last hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1994. The winner was Miss India, Sushmita Sen.