Oprah’s Oz shows creates buzz about Down Under in US

Sunday, January 23, 2011

MELBOURNE - Oprah Winfrey’s shows in Australia have finally aired in the US, but travel agents are waiting to see if they have an impact on tourism numbers.

Winfrey’s ‘Ultimate Australian Adventure’ specials, made with 5 million dollars of Australian taxpayers’ money, have created enormous buzz in its 4pm timeslots in the US last week.

And though Tourism Australia is keen to claim its investment is already yielding rewards, US-based travel agents said the excitement has so far not transformed into concrete bookings, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The shows were aimed at bringing a rush of American tourists Down Under to save the floundering industry.

“The Oprah shows are creating big publicity, but they will not close the deal,” said Andrew Haffenden of US-based agency Australian Natural Adventures.

“What Tourism Australia and (agents) need to start doing now is make this a call to action - this is an opportunity to put Australia up front again,” he added.

“I know my bookings have gone up, but I’m not sure if it’s because of Oprah or not,” said southern California agent Linda Kahn-Ferrell of Robinson Travel Service, who specialises in selling Australian holidays.

“I’m figuring we might not get more calls until next week and people start checking on websites and really making plans,” she added.

US-based tourism operators reported hundreds more visits to their websites during the airing of the specials, while traffic had nearly doubled to Tourism Australia’s own website Australia.com, said Tourism Australia’s marketing general manager Nick Baker.

Baker added that many Americans had called local agents ready to book tickets with no questions asked. (ANI)

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