While many local beauty pageant winners seek fame and fortune overseas, through sponsorships with international companies and in the Miss World Competition itself, local Kachin organisers Ko Lamai Robin and Kyaw KyawOo have created a pageant with a difference.
Since first registering in 2017, the “Miss and Mister Tourism and Culture Universe” (MMTCU) has become Myanmar’s first international beauty pageant, complete with the support of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism as well as the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture.
Miss and Mister Tourism and Culture Universe Co. Ltd. owns the copyright to the pageants, which are hosted in Myanmar each year. This is Myanmar’s second hosting of the event, which last year featured 18 countries.
Growing in popularity, this year’s event will see beauties and hunks from 25 different countries including Cameroon and Congo in Central Africa; Canada and El Salvador from the Americas; Russia and Italy from Europe; China and Japan from northern Asia; the Indian subcontinent will be well represented too; as well as representatives from South East Asia.
A total of 46 stunning models have made their way to Myanmar, to convey their support for local and international tourism, and to communicate the importance of fashion and lifestyle as a means of cultural exchange.
From 22 to 31 August the event will include activities around the country including locations in Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, Bagan and Yangon. Yesterday (August 25) the contestants each performed a dance from their native countries in front of a jury of judges in the nation’s capital. The winners of the “World of Dance” contest go through to the next round, where only 9 Misters and 12 Misses remain.
All contestants will compete in the “National Costume Contest”, to be held in Mandalay on August 27. Before briefly travelling to Bagan, where the models learn about the ancient city (and how to look good in front of a 1000-year-old pagoda), the competition will finish in Yangon for the Grand Final – hosted at the Sky Star Hotel on 31 August.
“For this year’s National Costumes event, we will show off our native Pa Daung national dress for our Miss and the Naga’s ethnic costumes for the Mister. I’ve used the fabrics that craftspeople in the villages use, and added a little of my own creativity,” designer Phyo Pyae said.
Phyo Paye fell in love with the fabric-making process in 2009.He started making national costumes for the Miss Heritage International festival in 2014. He has since created dozens of National Costumes for the Miss Myanmar competition.
Missosology Pageant Media, the beauty pageant magazine and world leading online forum, has also supported the MMTCU since the competition was launched last year.
“Our mission is to promote Myanmar’s tourism sector,” said Ko Lamai Robin, managing director of the Miss and Mister Tourism and Culture Universe.
“The contestants will have the chance to explore our diverse cultures as well as exchange their cultures too” he added.
Ko Lamai Robin believes that the international pageant is a good opportunity to showcase the talent and quality of Myanmar’s young people to the world.
“We hope that it will be a very effective way to introduce our country to the outside world,” he said.
“It wasn’t easy organizing an international event like this, and we have encountered many difficulties.The accommodation, travel, food and health issues are our responsibilities.We have to make it a great experience, because many people think the country is unsafe. We are grateful to the respective ministries for helping us take care of this issue,” he added.
Ko Lamai also mentioned the difficulty of arranging travel for many of the contestants, particularly given their different routes to Myanmar. Some of models, for example, weren’t able to transit through countries on their way here.
“It is difficult to make e-visa especially with countries we don’t have diplomatic relations with. Some of the contestants told me that they faced tight security at particular airports. This year there are three countries which aren’t able to participate because of visa rejections,” he explained to Metro.
Despite these difficulties, he believes that the competition will help boost Myanmar’s tourism sector, and allow the country to open-up to all visitors in the future.
“We want to embrace the different cultures, and enjoy the support of our local audience. We need your strength,” he said of Myanmar’s local fans.
This year, another strength of Myanmar – it’s beautiful gemstones – will feature in the tiara and crown worn awarded by the pageant winners.
Miss MC Evelyn from the Amarapura Township in Mandalay and Mister Kaung Htet San from Pyay Township will be representing Myanmar.
All the contestants from MMTCU have to compete in swim suit and evening gown rounds, as well as a round showing of their national costumes. The top models will advance to the round of 12. Then the list shrinks down to a top 6, who will participate in a Q&A session. The winners of the MMTCU will get US $10000 USD each, and awarded with a year-long contract with the MMTCU organisation Myanmar.
The competition finale will be broadcast live on local free-to-air Channel Me starting from 6 pm onwards, and all of the contests will feature live on the official competition website: www.facebook.com/tcuniverse.org
Next year MMTCU aims to recruit models from over 60