"There are many challenges facing the world such as poverty, disease and conflicts," Zuma said, welcoming the bevy of beauties to South Africa in Pretoria.
"Our Miss World contestants and national queens can play an important role in raising awareness about these ills and promote action for peace, love, togetherness and prosperity."
South Africa is hosting the pageant, with its 120 contestants, in Johannesburg on December 12.
Zuma said the contest promoted economic activity. It also encouraged "people-to-people contact and co-operation".
He wished the contestants well and urged them to enjoy what the country had to offer.