Being featured in the Oprah down under special has started to impact awareness of the Northern Territory, attracting up to 1,000 NT website clicks before the show even went to air.

Northern Territory Tourism Minister Malarndirri McCarthy told e-Travel Blackboard that spending $500,000 between the NT government and NT operators has served the region, receiving up to $9 million worth in advertisement prior to the episode’s release in the US.

Ms McCarthy said the Oprah tapings gave the NT an opportunity to promote leisure tourism and the region has already received mass interest.

“The NT website received about 1,000 hits before the show aired and we received 2,000 fans on Facebook from the US,” Ms McCarthy said.

Ms McCarthy added that although the impact of Oprah’s visit proved successful, the territory is waiting to see the overall effect long term.

The Tourism Minister said the TV hosts visit gave the region an opportunity to show off its leisure tourism which is the region’s focus for the moment.

“We are focusing on promoting the NT as a leisure destination but one of the things airlines look for when they select a destination is both business and leisure travel,” she told e-Travel Blackboard.

“It can’t just be all about leisure is had to include business travel.”

Late last year AirAsia signed on to launch flights into Darwin, promoting the NT to the growing Asian market.

Ms McCarthy said that although it was too soon to see a large impact from the relationship, “the people of Darwin are pleased to have an extra airline and that is definitely good news for AirAsia”.

In a bid to expand relations with airlines, Ms McCarthy travelled to the Middle East last year, meeting with the region’s carriers to endorse the NT’s existence.

“We are always lobbying for airlines to continue looking at us, so we can offer choice to travellers,” she said.

“Last year the Middle Eastern carrier Etihad began a codeshare with Virgin Blue and that helped us tap into the European market and it also gives us a chance to build new relationships.”

Ms McCarthy is travelling across Australia this week with the annual NT Muster.