PH won't host Miss Universe in 2018, says DOT chief Romulo-Puyat

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Newly-appointed Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said it's "best to wait" before the Philippines plays host yet again to the Miss Universe pageant. 

In an interview on dzMM on Friday, May 18, the tourism chief said it's a definite no to hosting the pageant in 2018, pointing out that the department needs to "fix" a lot of things first. Puyat had previously hinted that she wasn't inclined to host the pageant again, in contrast to statements of her predecesor who resigned. 

Puyat, in an earlier interview, said there are other programs that the department can implement and focus on.

"Parang kakaroon lang natin ng Miss Universe. Maybe maghintay-hintay muna tayo. Baka there are other programs that we can implement other than Miss Universe," she said. (We just had a Miss Universe here. Maybe it would be best to wait for now. I think there are other projects that we can implement other than Miss Universe.)

Puyat's predecessor, Wanda Teo, had expressed interest in hosting the pageant again. (READ: PH hosting Miss Universe 2018? Stay tuned, says Paula Shugart)

Teo resigned following a Commission on Audit (COA) report on the department's awarding P60 million for ads to Bitag Media, a company owned by her brother Ben Tulfo. (READ: Teo has 'no idea' her brothers Ben and Erwin Tulfo host 'Kilos Pronto'

Puyat, who had been in the Department of Agriculture prior to her new post, said she wants to improve on the DOT's other projects, particularly those linked to culinary and agri-tourism. 

"There are other ways to promote tourism. And Miss Universe is a very good program, but baka puwede tayo maghanap ng ibang programa like try natin i-continue yung Madrid Fusion kasi, hindi lang iyon nakatulong sa culinary tourism natin but nakatulong din sa ating agrikultura."

(There are other ways to promote tourism. And Miss Universe is a very good program, but there might be other projects we can try, like continue Madrid Fusion. Because not only has this helped our culinary tourism but also our agriculture sector.)

Puyat has been vocal about the importance of promoting Filipino food. She said she's set to meet with the other assistant secretaries and undersecretaries in the coming days to talk about other projects, such as health and wellness, and faith tourism programs.

The new tourism chief also said she wants to push for "cultural awareness" through tourism programs. 

"It can encourage you to be proud of your own culture. Gaya ng sinabi mo, hindi lang yung beaches but also the cultural aspect of it." (I told myself, if I saw this, it can encourage you to be proud of your own culture. As you said, it's not just about the beaches but also the cultural aspect of it.)

"Marami iyan eh. Hindi lang beaches, yung pagkain. You value the culture of a province. Sama-sama iyan lahat," she said. (There are so many factors. It's not just the beaches and food. You value the culture of a province. It's a package deal.)  – Rappler.com

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