OprahOprah Winfrey's grand excursion down under is reportedly costing Australia's tourism board nearly $3 million in Australian dollars. (Approximately $2.8 million U.S. dollars.)

The Queen of Talk surprised her studio audience on the premiere episode of her 25th season by giving her 300 guests a trip to Australia. Winfrey and her guests will be in the country for eight days and seven nights, where she will tape at least two episodes of her show, including one at the Sydney Opera House on Dec. 14.

"Oprah is a household name and her star power has the potential to lift Australia's profile as a premier tourist destination," Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said in a statement on Tuesday.

Former federal tourism minister John Brown played down the media's criticism of the costs.

"We spent hundreds of millions of dollars over 30 years without much effect, I must say that honestly," Brown told a news conference. "The publicity that Oprah will bring to Australia around the world is something you couldn't buy."