With no hesitation, Patricia Babirye Ntale answered the questions fired at her by the judges.
They were random and unexpected questions such as “what is the name of the elephant at UWEC?” but she demonstrated that she had the answers at the tip of her fingertips.
By the time she was done explaining the challenges facing the Ugandan tourism sector, it was clear that she had done her homework.
It was no surprise when the 20-year-old from Rakai district in the central region was announced Miss Tourism Uganda 2014/2015 at the Kampala Serena hotel last Friday night.
The question-and-answer session had edged out her competitors.
The Kyambogo University’s student of Bachelor of Administrative and Secretarial Science conciseness pushed her strongest competitor, Busoga’s Roberta Jean-Marie Magooba, to the first runner-up.
It was a cutthroat competition from the start; however, it was stiffer between Babirye and Magooba, who both exhibited great knowledge of Uganda’s tourism sector.
Magooba’s undoing was when she was asked noticeably harder questions during the final session.
The 18-year-old presenter with Wavah FM was asked which marketing tools she would use to market Uganda, and to name Uganda’s ‘big five plus two’.
The second runner-up was Gulu’s Norah Atim. This year’s pageant began with regional competitions organised under the different tourism clusters in Buganda, Ankole, Busoga, Bunyoro, Teso, Tooro, Kigezi, Eastern Uganda (Bugishu) and Northern Uganda.
The top three girls from each of the nine regions participated in the national competition before they were screened down to the top nine.
Trained by top model trainer, Sarah Nyamwenge, the nine girls exhibited a high level of intelligence and eloquence, which made the judges’ job extremely difficult.
The night’s MCs: Capital radio’s Flavia Tusiime and comedian Patrick ‘Salvado’ Idringi did a good job keeping the overflowing audience’s spirits up, with jokes and performances from singer Jackie Chandiru and Crane Performers cultural troupe.
The chief guest, Vice- President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, acknowledged that women are at the forefront of marketing Uganda locally and internationally. He encouraged the winner to represent Uganda effectively.
“You will show and carry the image of Uganda. I believe that you will shine brightly on the world stage and also represent Africa effectively,” Ssekandi said.
The minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Maria Mutagamba, said her ministry, together with Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), revived the beauty contest last year in order to popularise tourism to the locals who think it is a white man’s business. The clearly-ecstatic Mutagamba said the first runner-up would travel to London to participate in a travel exhibition while the second runners-up would go to Berlin in February.
Babirye took home a car and will represent Uganda in Miss Tourism International. She takes over from Barbara Nakitto, who represented Uganda at Miss Tourism International, emerging number five out of 60 contestants and was also crowned Miss Friendship International.