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Thailand will host this year’s Miss World Pageant for the first time, event organizers announced Monday.

The 69th edition of the contest will take place in December at Phaya Thai Palace, according to Miss World Organization CEO Julia Morley.

“Thailand, I’d like to have another word. Instead of the smiles, but perhaps the spirit of Thailand is how I would like to address you. It’s the spirit of Thailand that lives here. It’s magical, it’s passionate,” Morley, 80, said.

The title is currently held by Vanessa Ponce de Leon of Mexico.

The local organizer is TW Pageants — the same company that was dropped last year from hosting the Miss Universe pageant. The company now has a five-year contract to host the local Miss Thailand pageant.

Miss World draws contestants from 130 countries and has been running annually since 1951. It’s one of the “Big Four” international beauty pageant events alongside Miss Universe, Miss International and Miss Earth. It was founded by Julia Morley’s late husband, Eric Morley.

Since becoming CEO in 2000, Julia Morley has added more talent and humanitarian-based segments to the pageant. The Beauty With A Purpose section, since 1971, requires each contestant to present a charity project aimed at aiding their home nation.

“We have to remember that there are people who need a little help with their smiles. Everywhere we go needs help,” Morley said.

Miss World 2019 in Thailand will aid several local humanitarian organizations, including the Rotary Club of Thailand.

“We can work with any organization that wants to do good for the world. So this pageant is in line with our ideologies,” said Saowalak Rattanavich, director of the Rotary Club of Bang Rak district. “We can help beauty queens connect to our programs and charities and hopefully that will inspire more people to become Rotarians too!”

Miss World Thailand 2018, Nicolene Pichapa Limsnukan, was the first-ever Thai runner-up to the crown that no Thai has yet won. Nicolene, who ran on a charity platform to support autistic children, also won the continental Miss World Asia title. She is currently a business student at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m excited to share my culture with everyone here,” Nicolene said, gesturing to the other Continental Queens. “The few days I’ve been here I’ve already showed them a few things … thank you for coming to my home.”

Also present at the event were the other “Continental Queens:” Miss World Europe Maria Vasilevich of Belarus, Miss World Caribbean Kadijah Robinson of Jamaica, Miss World Oceania Jessica Tyson of New Zealand, Miss World Africa Quiin Abenakyo of Uganda, Miss World Americas Solaris Barba of Panama and Miss World UK Linzi McLelland of Scotland.

McLelland drew some light-hearted laughs from the audience when the interpreter was unable to understand her through her accent.

“I’m sorry, Scottish is very difficult to understand,” the Scottish beauty said, laughing. “My fellow queens also have trouble understanding me sometimes.”

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