Miss Universe lovelies sashay into Thailand
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha welcomed the organisers and contestants of Miss Universe 2018 to Thailand on Tuesday, and gave them a tour of Government House.
The delegation headed by Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart and Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was accompanied by Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat.
Gen Prayut said the contestants who visited the "Un Ai Rak Khlai Khwam Nao" winter fair were in Thailand at the right time and hoped they would help promote the country to the international community.
The premier said the beauty contest was about more than physical appearance and reflected inner beauty too as he urged Miss Universe Thailand 2018 Sophida Kanchanarin to be a good host.
Gen Prayut was quoted as asking if the contestants had tried some famous Thai dishes like somtam and tom yam kung while reassuring them that local food would not be too spicy for their taste buds.
It is the third time Thailand has been chosen to host the Miss Universe pageant. The 67th pageant in 2018 will take place at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi at 7am on Dec 17.
Thailand hosted the 41st pageant in 1992, followed by the 54th in 2005. Two Thais have been crowned Miss Universe -- Apasara Hongsakula in 1964 and Porntip Nakhirunkanok in 1988.
Miss Thailand Universe 2018 is Sophida Kanchanarin, known by her nickname Nong Ning. The Bangkok-born 23-year-old graduated earlier this year with a degree in finance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and was employed at a bank in Bangkok's Lak Si district when she entered the Miss Universe competition.
She was crowned Miss Thailand Universe on June 30.
The government hopes the event will promote the country as the contestants will take part in activities at several tourist locations.
On Tuesday, the contestants, who were dressed in Thai traditional costumes, attended the winter fair which is being held until Jan 19 next year.
They showed a keen interest in the exhibitions and fairground decorated to recreate Thailand's close relationship with water during the Rattanakosin era. The fair also offers a variety of food choices displayed in classic market formats.
Helena Hueser, Miss Universe 2018 Denmark, said she was fascinated by the Thai traditional costumes and impressed with Thai food.