A 22-year-old mass communication student is the fairest of them all. On Saturday, Ms Wendy Omolo from Homa Bay County was crowned Miss Tourism Kenya 2016 during a gala night held at Kidundu Stadium, Vihiga County.
Ms Omolo took home the coveted title in the finals against Uasin Gishu’s Kezia Matakala and Winnie Chepng’etich from Bomet County.
Ms Matakala emerged second, winning an award in hospitality, while Ms Chepng’etich bagged the second runners up title award in investment.
Ms Omolo, a Moi University student awaiting graduation, was crowned in a ritzy ceremony and had been rated among top 10 contestants.
She also excelled in the peace and unity Award and formal dressing.
A sassy Omolo wore a red evening gown that went well with the occasion. Miss Omolo was crowned winner at 5.15am Sunday after beating a bevy of 41 lookers.
Asked why she decided to contest in a beauty pageant, she said: “When I am on stage or when I am doing my charity work, you see a different person. I love meeting people, I love travelling and I love going places,” she said.
Ms Omolo plans to do charity work during her reign. The Sh100 million event brought together 3,000 people, among them more than 10 governors, led by Vihiga’s Moses Akaranga. It ran through the night of Saturday June 18.
Also present was Cord leader Raila Odinga, Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu and Miss Tourism Kenya Director Alice Kamunge.
Immediately she was named the winner, the crowd burst into song and dance, with delegations from the lake side county of Homa Bay joining her on the main dais.
She shed tears of joy and quickly said she was ready to take up the task of marketing Kenya’s potential as a tourist and investment destination.
Renowned gospel artiste Mercy Masika entertained the lively crowd in the warm moonlit night. The event rolled over from Saturday night to Sunday morning with a host of comedians taking the stage to keep the guests entertained.
Participating counties were divided into nine regions that included the coast, great Nairobi, North Rift, South Rift, South Savanna, Northern Frontier, Western, Nyanza and Mt Kenya.
AGAINST ALL ODDS
The winner took home a grand package of Sh1.2 million that included a destination of her choice.
Winners for various other categories were also awarded, with Murang’a County bagging the award for the region that was most voted for by the public after attaining 44,471 votes through short messaging service.
Mombasa’s Miss Babylynn Mukila, who is deaf, received an award of honour for taking part in the competitions despite her disability. Mr Kazungu also awarded Miss Mukila for beating all odds to be part of the competition.
He said: “This is culture, integration, tourism and cohesion.”
Mr Akaranga, who enumerated the various tourism attraction sites in Vihiga, said the event was welcome as it aimed at enabling all the communities in the country know each other and foster the spirit of one country.
“So many counties are here today. This is a sign of unity that must be embraced at all times,” said Mr Akaranga.
Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto said: “It is devolution that has enabled us meet here today. This has never happened before in our country for the past 60 years. All the 42 tribes of Kenya are here today.”
Officials from the Ministry of Tourism were conspicuously missing at the event with no representative sent to grace the event whose main agenda aims at advancing promotion of tourism.
This year’s theme is ‘Exploring our cultural heritage for social and economic development of our people’.