ABC News Online
By Brendan Trembath
As Oprah Winfrey's 300 audience members touched down in Sydney this morning, it has emerged that Prime Minister Julia Gillard will likely make a guest appearance on her show.
The Federal Government, in conjunction with its NSW counterpart, spent $3 million to lure Winfrey and her guests Down Under in a bid to boost the tourism industry.
The talk show queen is set to film two episodes at the Sydney 'Oprah' House later this month. A third episode will focus on the travel experiences of her 300 guests.
High-profile Australians are expected to guest star on Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure episodes, including Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, and it is now understood Ms Gillard will too.
A source says Ms Gillard will meet with Winfrey in Melbourne later this week when it is likely some kind of segment will be recorded.
The episodes will air in January, not just in the United States but in the 145 countries where The Oprah Winfrey Show is broadcast.
Dr Deborah Edwards from the School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism at the University of Technology in Sydney believes Winfrey's visit will have direct and indirect benefits for Australia.
"In terms of direct benefits, there's immediate marketing benefits both in Australia and overseas because there are lots of media and news reports covering the whole Oprah Winfrey travel show," Dr Edwards said.
"These people will also be spending money here.
"In terms of indirect benefits, the impact of the whole Oprah Winfrey show, long-term, will be great for Australia because it has people talking about us.
"It (the special shows) has friends and family talking about their experiences here, about people wanting to come here and all of the advertising, the promotion that's going out because of it. It's just fabulous."
Dr Edwards does not think the stronger Australian dollar will make our country less attractive to visitors from North America.
"If the desire is strong enough, then people will translate that into a booking," she said.
"If they don't have the funds now and they have a strong desire, then they will make it happen in the future.
"So they will budget, they will plan and they will put something in place to come out in six to 12 months, something like that, because they really want to be there."
Dr Edwards believes the key to getting tourists to book is to present Australia as an attractive destination.
"Yes the strong Australian dollar is problematic, but I think the sort of advertising benefits that we're getting is going to be helpful in that area."
According to Forbes magazine, Winfrey has a net worth of $2.5 billion thanks in part to the power of her brand.
When Winfrey puts her stamp of approval on something it tends to sell well, like the books featured on her show.
But Dr Rebecca Sheehan, lecturer in American history at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, warns comparing Australia as a desired tourist destination to buying a book is tricky.
"In the sense that, of course, it's much cheaper to buy a book than to visit Australia, and the Australian dollar is very strong at the moment and the US is still deep in recession," she said.
"But I think her coming here is a significant boon for Australian tourism and ... I think she will attempt to show Australia in the best possible light."
Winfrey will reportedly arrive in Australia by private jet tomorrow.