The Cayman Islands government told beauty pageant participants that all contests have been postponed until the economy improves.
The move is expected to save some $120,000 (€82,280) – a small windfall for one of the world’s largest tax havens, but which is struggling with mounting debt during the global economic crisis.
The British territory reported a $100m (€68.56m) deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30 and has requested $465m (€318.8m) in loans.
The six women vying to represent the Caymans at the upcoming Miss World and Miss Universe contests will have to put their ambitions on hold, tourism official Patricia Ulett said.
Ms Ulett, who represents the Tourism Ministry on the Miss Cayman Islands Committee, noted the decision is not without precedent.
Officials suspended beauty pageants in 2005 after Hurricane Ivan barrelled through the Caribbean, killing dozens and causing extensive damage.
“It’s not an unusual thing that countries don’t attend,” she said.
Trinidad and Tobago also cancelled pageants this year after its government slashed the budget and requested that the contests seek private funding.
Caymans contestant Mysti Bush told a local newspaper she respects the move as a bid to save government employees’ jobs, but she questioned why funding was not sought from the private sector.
“The committee should have funds in reserve for emergencies such as this,” she was quoted as saying by the Caymanian Compass.