Australia pays millions for Sydney ‘Oprah’ House
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 ’til 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 dollars (2.3 million US) in government funding.
Ferguson Tuesday 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.
“This represents a huge international audience,” he added.
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.
“We look forward to flying the Oprah show correspondents and over 300 of Oprah’s most loyal viewers to Australia on our fleet,” chief executive Alan Joyce said.
Winfrey, 56, was ranked the world’s most powerful celebrity by Forbes magazine this year, outclassing actress Angelina Jolie and singer Beyonce Knowles.
She is due to launch her own television channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2011.