The Miss World pageant will return to the tropical Chinese beach town of Sanya in 2005 for the third straight year, pageant president Julia Morley said on Friday. "I am really excited to tell you that the 55th Miss World contest will be held here in Sanya," Morley said at a news conference on the eve of the final for this year's pageant. "We feel this is our home."
The announcement expands a partnership between London-based Miss World and Sanya, which hopes the publicity will promote the city on Hainan Island in the South China Sea as a tourist destination. Morley and Sanya Mayor Chen Ci said this year's pageant is a cooperative venture.
In contrast to last year, when Sanya paid Miss World a US$4.8 million fee, the city is paying nothing, and instead is providing security and other support, said Morley and Chen. Miss World organizers are responsible for finding sponsors. Chen said the partnership is a good fit because "this is a safe island."
Miss World came to Sanya last year after the pageant was forced to flee Nigeria in 2002 following deadly rioting. Morley praised Sanya's "loving, peaceful feeling" and picturesque beaches.
"Everybody wants to come back because of the kindness shown to us," she said.
Sanya built new highways and a tiara-shaped convention center for Miss World last year.
Since then, the new facilities have helped the town to host more than 1,000 international events, Chen said.