14 agosto 2009

Miss Universe Publicity Priceless

By Sasha L. Lightbourne

The Bahamas cannot pay for the amount of publicity and exposure that it is getting from hosting the 2009 Miss Universe pageant, according to a senior official in the Ministry of Tourism.

Director of Communications, Janet Johnson told the Bahama Journal on Tuesday that the initial price tag was pegged at just under $10 million.

"I think initially when we talked it was somewhere in the range of $7 million, but whatever it is we are spending we cannot pay for the exposure we are getting," she said.

"We are going to be [broadcast in] over 185 countries on the final night with nine minutes of exposure devoted strictly to The Bahamas and specifically the islands that the girls visited such as Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama, Abaco and so forth."

She said the event is not "Nassau-centric," but focused on the entire country.

"This is big, as we are being seen globally in one shot and people all over the world are talking about The Bahamas right now," Ms. Johnson said.

"What Bahamians need to realize is that we are getting our brand out there and when people look at a place to hold any event such as a pageant, they will see that we have the formula, we know how to do it and we know how to do it well."

When asked whether the country has received any international commentary so far, the communications director said, "People are watching and people will begin to consider The Bahamas whereas before we may not have been a contender because we are a small country."

"To host something of this magnitude takes a lot of effort, but we have made it seem effortless and people are very pleased and even the organizers have said that they have never walked into a country and carried out their duties so effortlessly."

Ms. Johnson further explained that so far, things are going very well overall.

"The girls are very pleased so far," she said.

"They are Abaco and Harbour Island today (Tuesday) and (Monday) night we had a costume presentation to a sold out crowd and it was wonderful to see the diversity of cultures that are represented in Miss Universe and for Bahamians to get to see that is good too."

As for the response from the locals, Ms. Johnson told the Journal that things initially started out "very slowly."

"First it was sluggish, but as Bahamians got the Miss Universe fever and saw the flags up on the bridge and they saw the girls going around the island and watching them on Bay Street last Friday, at Arawak Cay and at Government House and various other places, things began to change," she said.

"Now we see tremendous interest in the whole thing and we hope that it continues through the end of the month."

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