Miss South Africa 2021 Lalela Mswane expressed her "deepest gratitude for the overwhelming love" following her arrival in Israel ahead of the upcoming Miss Universe pageant.
More than 70 countries are expected to compete at the 70th edition of Miss Universe in Eilat, Israel, on 12 December.
The annual beauty pageant has been marred with controversy since it was announced that this year's competition would be hosted in Israel, which is accused of committing atrocities against Palestinians.
Despite a global call to boycott the event and concern surrounding the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, Lalela said in an Instagram post: "Thank you all so much for embracing me so warmly and making my journey one that's incredibly special."
The reigning Miss South Africa broke her social media silence on Saturday, following the government's withdrawal of its support, announcing her departure, saying: "It is with so much gratitude that I prepare to represent my beautiful South Africa at the 70th Miss Universe competition."
Lalela will be taking part in several activities, interviews and preliminary rounds leading up to the coronation night, including fittings, rehearsals, orientation and the national costume show.