Apparently the "Oprah effect" doesn't transcend U.S. lines. Winfrey's audience went into typical pandemonium when she announced that she'd be footing the bill for a trip to Australia last December, but the resulting TV series, titled Ultimate Australian Adventure, underwhelmed viewers and failed to boost Australia's tourism efforts as planned.
As we reported previously, it was actually Australian taxpayers who shelled out money to fund Oprah's adventure, some $3 million to be exact, including expenses for 300 of her fans. Updated estimates put the cost closer to $5 million. The return, which was valued at over $300 million in global publicity according to Tourism Australia, didn't quite hit the mark. But just how far off it is has yet to be determined as Tourism Australia chief, Andrew McEvoy told the Sydney Morning Herald, "the full impact will be seen over many years to come."
Experts have relied on visits by Americans (as well as those by Canadian and British residents) to gauge Oprah's influence, numbers which showed that U.S. visits fell 0.8 percent in the first five months of 2011, compared with the first half of last year. The dip was even more pronounced in Britain and Canada, where Oprah's special also aired.
Australia's rising dollar is partially to blame, but critics also say that the TV series' narrow focus-showcasing only two "stereotypical" parts of the country-was also a factor.