Oprah Winfrey`s Oz visit boosts tourism Down Under
Melbourne: TV mogul Oprah Winfrey`s trip to Queensland has boosted tourism in the disaster-ravaged state.
For the first time since June 2010, the number of US inbounds passengers increased in January and February, with almost 10,000 entering Brisbane International Airport.
The modest growth of 1.1 per cent each month was in contrast to falls at Sydney and Melbourne airports of 0.2 per cent and 0.5 per cent.
The Brisbane Airport Corporation`s Rebecca Masci said it was encouraging to see the US market making a comeback.
"The increase in visitors from the US is potentially related to Oprah`s promotion of the region, and is a positive sign that international guests are receiving the message that Queensland is open and ready for business," a website quoted Masci as saying.
The talkshow queen travelled to Australia last December, accompanied by 302 "ultimate fans", visiting Cairns, Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays and Hamilton Island.
The programs aired in late-January, shortly after the devastating Queensland floods.
Daniel Gschwind from the Queensland Tourism Industry Council said it may be too early to attribute any improvement to the "Oprah effect", but the positive growth was welcomed.
"I totally expect Oprah`s promotion of Australia to have a significant impact on visitor numbers from the US and given that it`s already showing signs of improvement, that puts us in a strong position," he said.
He said Winfrey`s popular show was the "most effective word of mouth" imaginable.
"Oprah is the ultimate distribution model. She speaks to millions of people and most importantly, millions of people listen to what she has to say," he added.