Will ‘world’s best job’ earn tourism dollars?

Ben Southall will move into a three-bedroom beach home overlooking the Great Barrier Reef.
The "best job in the world" contest has generated huge interest around the globe, but the jury is out on whether that will translate into more tourism dollars for Queensland, Australia.

“That’s the million dollar question,” said Anthony Hayes, CEO of Tourism Quensland, which sponsored the contest. “Quite frankly you can have $150 million worth of publicity, but if it doesn’t generate sales you’ve really wasted your time on a pretty story.” A British man beat 34,000 other applicants Wednesday to win the right to stroll the white sands of a tropical island in Queensland, Australia, file weekly reports online to a global audience and earn a cool $100,000. Watch as lucky winner is revealed » For the winner, Ben Southall, the six-month assignment is a far cry from his old job as a fundraiser. “I love discovering new places,” Southall said in his hyperkinetic minute-long application video for the position. “Last year, I drove all around Africa, I crossed deserts, climbed mountains, run marathons, bungee jump, mountain-bike, scuba-dive and snorkel everywhere because I’m practically a fish myself.” Oh, and he rode an ostrich. He will move into a three-bedroom beach home overlooking the tropical island’s Great Barrier Reef. For six months, he will feed the fish, clean the pool and send weekly blog and video reports on what is happening on the island. Other benefits include free return airfares from their nearest capital city, transport on the island, computer and camera gear and travel to other islands.

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The applicants used various attempts to woo their prospective employer, from wandering round a chilly city center in a bikini, to making their application in the form of a street musical, complete with chorus singers. Sixteen finalists were flown in to Hamilton Island on Monday for interviews with a four-person panel. The job starts July 1.

The “world’s best job” campaign was 18 months in the making as a way to lure more tourism to the 600 islands near the Great Barrier Reef. “The starting point was how do we get the message out there … that they’re open for business and we want people to come and visit,” Hayes said. “The idea of this is to protect jobs throughout our regional parts of Queensland.”