Aussies fork out millions for Oprah

2010-09-14 12:28

Australia paid more than two million Australian dollars (about R13 million) to tempt megastar Oprah Winfrey Down Under in a bid to raise the country’s profile as a holiday destination.

Winfrey told an ecstatic American studio audience they would be flown to Australia by Hollywood star John Travolta for a tourist dash which would take in beaches, vineyards, Sydney Harbour and the world-famous Great Barrier Reef.

“We’ll sail Sydney Harbour, some will sample shiraz in Aussie wine country and others will shop till they drop in trendy Melbourne,” the chat show queen told her 300-strong audience.

“We’ll get up close with kangaroos and koalas, kick back on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and experience one of the seven wonders of the world – the Great Barrier Reef.”

Several episodes of the popular talk show will be shot during the eight-day adventure, culminating in a recording session which will see one of Sydney’s most famous icons become the “Oprah House”.

The December trip has been almost a year in the planning and Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said it had received 2.5 million Australian dollars in government funding.

Ferguson said the trip by Winfrey’s show, which screens in 145 countries and is now shooting its 25th and final season, would showcase Australia to the world and act as a drawcard for visitors.

“The decision of The Oprah Winfrey Show to actually come to Australia is a major coup,” Ferguson told ABC radio.

“In announcing it in the US overnight, she described it as her ‘dream destination’ and that means we are going to get a major international opportunity to lift Australia’s profile as a premier tourism destination.

Travolta will fly the group on a Qantas jet, and the flagship national airline said it was proud to be involved in the massive exercise.

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