To kick off her 25th and final season, billionaire talk-show host (and persistently extravagant gift-giver) Oprah Winfrey gleefully announced this week that she'll be taking 300 lucky audience members on an all-expense paid trip to Australia. Less gleeful: Australian taxpayers who must kick in $2.7 million to help pay for the eight-day excursion — but experts say Oprah's visit could significantly boost their country's flagging tourism industry. Will the "Oprah Effect" work Down Under? (Watch Oprah's announcement)

This is a g'thing for Australia: Aussies have waited "years" for another tourism boon akin to the one Paul Hogan and Crocodile Dundee triggered, John Brown, the country's former tourism minister, tells The Australian. If the worldwide "publicity that Oprah will bring to Australia" does what I think, the benefits will be "something you couldn't buy."
"Tourism industry proclaims Oprah deal a coup"

Send Oprah back: What a disaster, says Crikey in an editorial. Australians should be "horrified" to learn that Oprah Winfrey, "along with 300 underprivileged, upper-middle-class, diamond-earring-bedecked, screaming American women," are about to "rape and pillage our fair nation" for millions of dollars. Of course, this "desperate" tourism ploy could work, but if you ask us, it goes "a bit far."

This may end badly for Oprah: Oprah's profuse "generosity" has backfired before, says Lacey Rose in Forbes, notably when she "gave her entire studio audience Pontiac G6 sedans" in 2004. Not only did ever winner have to pay "as much as $7,000 in taxes" on the gift, Oprah went from "relatable every-woman" to "fabulously wealthy materialist." Stay tuned...
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