*On Monday’s season premiere of her talk show, Winfrey announced that she was flying her entire studio audience to Australia, where she’ll tape several episodes of her talk show and take the group of 300 to various tourist spots. [See clip below.]
The total cost of the trip is unknown, but Australian taxpayers will reportedly help foot the bill — to the tune of $3 million ($2.7M USD), the nation’s tourism minister said Tuesday, according to Popeater.
The trip is being carried out in conjunction with airline Qantas and will be partly financed with funds in the annual tourism budget.
“I think it’s money well spent,” Martin Ferguson told reporters after making the announcement in Sydney. “This truly represents an amazing opportunity to showcase Australia, the warmth and hospitality of our people and the depth and breadth of everything our country has to offer visitors from around the world.”
The government of New South Wales, the state where Sydney is located, will pay between $1 million and $2 million of the country’s investment in the trip.
Sensing there may be some backlash from taxpayers, former tourism minister John Brown has implored the media not to be “cynical about the cost.”
“We spent hundreds of millions of dollars over 30 years without much effect, I must say that honestly,” he said. “The publicity that Oprah will bring to Australia around the world is something you couldn’t buy.”
There will be two episodes of ‘Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure,’ which will feature O’s biggest fans down under, in places like the Sydney Opera House. The trip will take place this coming December.
“It’s one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit, and who better to take with me on this trip of a lifetime than some of my most loyal viewers. My team has been planning this trip for almost a year and we are so excited,” Oprah said in a statement.
After airing, Oprah tweeted that she was pleased no one let the news leak. “Audience — it’s unbelievable that you kept that secret all weekend!! Way to go mates,” she wrote.
Watch Oprah deliver the news below.