Oprah puts Whitsundays on map

Oprah Winfrey is in Australia for a 10-day visit.
Oprah Winfrey is in Australia for a 10-day visit. George Burns

SHE’S known as the big ‘O’ and her visit to Hammo is set to translate into big $ for the Whitsunday tourism industry.

The publicity generated from Oprah’s pit stop at Hamilton Island will give the holiday destination the type of exposure that money just can’t buy.

Oprah’s opinions are highly regarded worldwide and she couldn’t speak highly enough of Hamilton Island during her visit on Wednesday.

“I will be telling everybody that it is better than anything in a book or a magazine,” she said.

“Oh my God, it is so beautiful.”

As members of her audience were still out enjoying the Great Barrier Reef yesterday, Whitsundays Tourism chief executive officer Peter O’Reilly spoke about the exposure Oprah’s visit would give the region.

Footage taken of the picturesque Whitsundays during her visit will form part of Oprah specials that will beam into televisions across 140-odd countries early next year.

Mr O’Reilly said Oprah’s visit was a timely one as Whitsunday tourism operators had recently gone through some tough times, but the real benefits were still to come.

“We won’t see any real marketing impact until after those shows have aired,” he said.

“It (the visit) gives you huge awareness. What we now have to do is translate that into bookings.

“She’s just such an opinion leader.

“The mere fact she was here in the Whitsundays is just tremendous.”

Mr O’Reilly expects Oprah’s visit will have a positive impact on both international and domestic markets.

“When these shows go to air I can guarantee that will be the largest audience she’s drawn, particularly in Australia,” he said.

Oprah drove around Hamilton Island in a buggy, enjoyed a barbecue with Curtis Stone on Whitehaven Beach and hugged a koala at the Wildlife Sanctuary Animal Zoo.

She stayed overnight at the luxury qualia resort on Hamilton Island.

Yesterday, Oprah spent the afternoon at Uluru. Today she is expected to visit Melbourne.

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