WHAT a spectacular end to the year it was for New Zealander Ariel Pearse, who beat 59 other contestants to win the Miss Tourism International (MTI) 2016 crown on New Year’s Eve.
The 24-year-old blew the judges away with her poise, intellect and beauty.
“It has been an amazing three weeks in Malaysia with these extraordinary bunch of girls. I am extremely blessed to have been able to get to know them while exploring the country,” said a happy Pearse.
“The one thing I would take away from this experience is the kindness and sincerity of the Malaysian people.”
The Kiwi dedicated her win to her mother whom she praised as a pillar of strength in her life.
Joining Pearse in the Top Five winners’ category were Miss Brazil Thaina Carolina Magalhaes Peres (Miss Tourism Cosmopolitan International); Miss Australia Tasha Laraine Ross (Miss Tourism Global); Miss Mexico Ximena Delgado Mendez (Miss Dreamgirl of the Year International); and Miss Indonesia Dikna Faradiba Maharani (Miss South East Asia Ambassadress).
All the top five winners received cash prizes, a crown, a trophy, vouchers and a scholarship worth RM60,000 for studies at the Lim Kok Wing University of Creative Technology London Global Campus Programme.
Nine subsidiary titles adopted by sponsors were also given away to the contestants.
The evening started with a bang as the girls put their best foot forward in their respective national costumes.
Three of the participants were awarded Best in National costume. They were Miss Guatemala Claudia Veronica Perez Maldonado, Miss Indonesia Dikna Faradiba Maharani and Miss Vietnam Pham Thi Thuy Linh, who received their awards to rousing applause.
The award for Best in Evening Wear went to Miss Swaziland Nadia Nascimento, Miss Paraguay Julia Laura Andrea Frison Parades and Miss Thailand Pinicha Kitkasempongsa.
Miss Malaysia Ng Shin Ying won over the judges with her cheerleading routine, while the subsidiary title of Most Prolific in Social Media went to Miss Belarus Polli Cannabis, Miss Indonesia Dikna Faradiba Maharani and Miss Thailand Pinicha Kitkasempongsa.
Other subsidiary title winners included Miss Japan Mao Kaneko (Miss KL Sogo Trendsetter), Miss Philippines Justine Mae San Jose (Miss Gintell Wellness) and Miss Denmark Grace Hanson Gardner (Miss Friendship).
MTI 2016 pageant president Tan Sri Danny Ooi said the event was more than a beauty pageant as it also aimed to promote tourism, culture and friendship.
Prior to this 19th edition of the MTI, the delegates also visited various iconic locations in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi.
In their short time in Langkawi, the delegates set two Malaysia Book of Records for “most number of nationals in the highest altitude tai chi session” and “most number of nationals in the highest altitude silat session”.
Both events were held at the Langkawi Sky Bridge.
The event was in line with the Tourism and Culture Ministry’s efforts to popularise Malaysia as a shopping paradise to tourists from around the world.