Dominican Republic ditched for Miss Universe contest

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, Friday September 28, 2012 — Just two weeks after declaring the 2012 Miss Universe pageant project in the Dominican Republic “very much alive”, the contest’s organizers have ditched the Caribbean location in favour of Las Vegas in the United States.

Explaining the reason for the abrupt change of plan, Miss Universe organization president Paula Shugart said that too many obstacles had arisen for holding the event in the Dominican Republic’s popular tourist city of Punta Cana. She added that the main obstacle was the Caribbean country’s financial crisis.

The change of venue announcement comes a fortnight after the Dominican government said it could not afford the US$6million in financial assistance that event organizers had requested.

Presidential Administrative Minister Jose Ramon Peralta had said at that time that the pageant’s organizers were welcome to hold the event in the Dominican Republic with their own resources and contributions from the private sector, but there could be no contribution from the government.

‘‘We are nearing a fiscal deal, a plan of austerity, and we must be very cautious about expenses,’’ Peralta had stated.

Officials from the new administration of President Danilo Medina, who came to power in May, were holding talks with International Monetary Fund (IMF) representatives at the time.

Shugart, meanwhile, says the event would have attracted many tourists to the Dominican Republic, noting that is a priority of the recently elected president.

The 2012 pageant had originally been scheduled to be contested in the Dominican Republic in December.

The Caribbean country previously hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1977. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)