A 22-year-old Malaysian beauty from Kuala Lumpur Aileen Gabriella Robinson won the Miss Tourism International 2011 title at the pageant world final held on new year’s eve at the ballroom of Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa in Petaling Jaya.
Aileen, standing 5 feet 7 inches (171 cm) tall, beat 53 beauty queens from around the world, including from Indonesia, Mongolia, Syria, Lebanon, Canada and Germany, to become the first Malaysian ever to win the crown title in the pageant ‘s 15 years history.
“I am very overwhelmed yet at the same time I am very honoured and very proud to be the first Malaysian to be crowned Miss Tourism International 2011 and I really hope that I carry out my role well and I hope that I can promote tourism to the rest of the world,” said an excited Aileen who is of mixed heritage. Her mother is of Chinese and Indian mixed parentage while her father is English.
When asked why she think she won, she said: “First of all, I think that being a host, it was very important to be friendly and inviting with all the girls and I believe that I really got to do a good job showing them Malaysians’ warm hospitality.
Every time they wanted to know something about Malaysia, I did my job and informed them and help them out even if that was something like ‘where can we buy a handphone cover’ for instance.”
It was the best piece of good news to start the new year 2012 for all Malaysians when Aileen was announced the crown winner minutes before the countdown to 12 midnight started.
Reigning Miss Tourism International 2010 Nathalie Den Dekker from the Netherlands placed the crown over to the new queen.
At the stroke of midnight, hotel staff fired a salvo of confetti canons setting off a merry-making confetti-filled New Year celebration with everyone congratulating the new queen, exchanging new year greetings and posing for photographs with her.
During the Q & A session, the dance instructor was asked ‘How best will you promote tourism for your country to the world?’ by the entertaining multi-lingual and talented emcee Mahadzir Lokman who also doubled up as interpreter by translating the same question to non-English speaking contestants from Costa Rica, Peru and Thailand and also sang a few songs much to the delight of everyone.
She impressed the judges with her calm and confident answer: “I will use the internet and the media to promote our rich heritage of culture, races and religions living together as 1 Malaysia and on top of that our delicious food, our amazing infrastructure and our beautiful tropical islands which all together make up Malaysia truly Asia.”
Aileen who was the first runner-up at the recent Miss Universe Malaysia 2012 pageant also bagged the Miss Charity Queen subsidiary title. Her hobbies include jungle trekking, reading and dancing and she hope to achieve her ambition to be a leading public figure.
The pageant was attended by VIP guest of honour Information, Communications and Culture deputy minister Senator Datuk Maglin Dennis D’Cruz. Among those present were former information and tourism minister Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, the pageant’s franchise holder and president Datuk Danny Ooi and PPP president Datuk M. Kayveas.
All the contestants paraded in their colourful national costumes, batik wear and evening wear. They also performed a musical dance entitled A Touch of Crystals and showcased their ability and skill in the talent performance.
Guests were also entertained to a special performance by guest singer Frank Scott Hew in a duet with Shafinaz Selamat, both of whom were also the judges for the night.
The finals was carried live by RTM1 via delay telecast and watched by thousands of new year revellers waiting for 2012 countdown at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. Other members of the media present included foreign news agency from Indonesia, bloggers from Singapore and online media The Malaysian Insider.
There were five main titles award up for grabbed at the finals. Besides the Miss Tourism
International 2011 title being the top prize amongst them, four other beauty titles were also awarded in the night. There were also 13 subsidiary titles awarded.
Jana Kopecka, 18 from Czech Republic grabbed the Dreamgirl of the Year International
2011 title; Amanda Leong Li Ting, 19 from Singapore bagged the Miss Cosmopolitan International 2011 title; Patsaraporn Khonkhamhaeng, 20 from Thailand grabbed the Miss Tourism Global 2011 title and Carolina Del Carmen Brid Cerrud, 21 from Panama who was named Miss Tourism Metropolitan International 2011.
As part of their itinerary during their 18 day spent in the country, the 54 contestants participated in preview shows, made personal appearances at sponsors’ outlets and visits to children and welfare homes, including travels to Penang and Johor.
Among the panel of judges for the finals were former Miss Malaysia Queen of Tourism 1996 Zoee Tan, supermodel Amber Chia, journalist Kee Huat Chee, producer/choreographer David Kort, chef extraordinaire Chef Wan and Hongkong actor/singer Gregory Wong
The Miss Tourism International Pageant is a home-grown title initiated in 1994 by Datuk Danny Ooi to promote tourism for the host country and also to promote peace, goodwill and friendship among the participating countries. Then it started with participation from 20 countries and today the title is franchised to more than 85 countries around the world.