20 Dec 2010

Return awaited on investment in Oprah

3:30 pm on 20 December 2010

The Australian tourism industry is pinning its hopes on Oprah Winfrey reviving its fortunes.

Tourism is Australia's single biggest export earner, but the industry is going through tough times - due to the recession in the United States and Europe and a strong Aussie dollar.

Radio New Zealand's Sydney correspondent says that's why the federal and state governments forked out $A3 million to pay for Oprah and her entourage to record two episodes of her US talk show in Sydney last week.

Qantas also flew 302 American audience members of the Oprah show to Sydney for the recording. They arrived on 7 December and departed on 15 December after visiting various parts of the country.

Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe were on hand to sell Australia to US viewers in a special recording outside the Opera House, or the "Oprah House" as it became known during her visit.

'Huge exposure' for Uluru region

The ABC reports part of her trip was filmed at Uluru at a cost of about $A500,000 - which Tourism Minister Malarndirri McCarthy says has given the region huge exposure.

Winfrey and 93 travelling audience members also visited Hamilton Island in Queensland.

The Opera House episodes of her show will screen next year in 145 countries to mark Winfrey's 25th and final season on air.

Qantas describes the whole event as "marketing gold". Radio New Zealand's correspondent says that remains to be seen.