By MEGAN REYNOLDS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE 2009 Miss Universe pageant cost the government $5.8 million in total, Minister of Tourism Senator Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace revealed in a press conference yesterday.
Mr Vanderpool-Wallace said the cost was much less than expected and far lower than many previous hosts of the international beauty contest have paid for the privilege.
The pageant gave the Bahamas nearly 10 minutes of coverage on prime-time television shown on 647 media broadcasts in 180 countries around the world and was viewed by an estimated 115,936,797 million people, including 7.1 million in the United States.
All of those people would have learned that the Bahamas is a network of individual islands each with their own character, as they followed Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza, of Venezuela, to Exuma, Andros, and Cat Island, and all 84 contestants to Harbour Island, Bimini and Grand Bahama.
The $5.8 million paid by the Ministry of Tourism included all transportation of contestants by air, sea and land, Mr Vanderpool-Wallace told the media at the British Colonial Hilton in downtown Nassau, yesterday.
The minister compared the price-tag to the $2 million cost of 30 seconds of advertising during a Super Bowl game, and the $15 million Vietnam paid to host Miss Universe 2008.
The minister said: "We really have to thank the private sector because without their support there's no way we could have done what we did with the kind of outcome that we had.
"Never before have I seen a level of co-operation, co-ordination, inter-government co-operation, like that. There were things we were trying to get fixed for years and as soon as Miss Universe was coming, it was done.
"There was amazing co-operation and amazing outcome."
Director of Tourism Vernice Walkine said she fought to showcase the individual islands, each with its unique appeal, in the pageant show.
She said: "We saw an opportunity to get these beautiful women moving through the islands to promote to the world that we have multiple islands which is the mission, I think, we accomplished.
"I fought for us to get Dayana Mendoza to do her adventures in the Bahamas and that's not typical because she would normally have one destination.
"So I got everything I wanted and then some."
Mr Vanderpool-Wallace said the exposure attracted many more people to the Ministry of Tourism website, and particularly to pages about the Family Islands, after the event.
Miss Universe 2009 also boosted local businesses, with events such as the fashion show highlighting the fabrics of Androsia and Bahama Hand Prints.
Mr Vanderpool-Wallace said: "Miss Universe had the biggest impact we have had ever. It's something that was just extraordinary in terms of what it is.
"We have never in the history of the Bahamas got coverage of that sort.
"In a two hour telecast we had the best commercial for the Bahamas that we will ever get.
"We got almost 10 minutes of fantastic coverage we could never have paid for out of our budget.
"It was a conversation and negotiation and outcome we are very proud of. People say it was an outstanding production, an amazing accomplishment, and $5.8 million is much less than we expected to pay.
"It was much, much less than anybody has paid for Miss Universe in the last several years, in Vietnam, in Trinidad, the cost was much higher, so we paid much less than in recent years and in many other years."