Briton wins "best job in the world" on Australia island

Wed May 6, 2009 8:34am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A British charity fundraiser won the "best job in the world" Wednesday -- caretaker of an Australian tropical island -- after an innovative marketing campaign that highlighted the power of social media.

Ben Southall, 34, was picked from 16 finalists in a highly publicized contest by Tourism Queensland which attracted nearly 34,700 video entries from almost 200 countries and surpassed all expectations in promoting tourism in the Australian state.

The job description? Explore the islands of the Great Barrier Reef for six months and report back to Tourism Queensland and the world via blogs, a photo diary, video updates and interviews.

Also, if you feel like it, feed the fish, collect the mail and clean the pool -- and earn A$150,000 ($110,000) for your efforts.

"To go away now as the island caretaker for Tourism Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef is an extreme honor," Southall said on live television from Hamilton Island after being named the winner.

"I hope I can fill the boots as much as everybody is expecting, my swimming hopefully is up to standard and I look forward to all of the new roles and the responsibilities that the task involves," he said, adding he would soon be joined by his Canadian girlfriend on the island.

While the job itself attracted global attention, so did the campaign by state-run Tourism Queensland as it highlighted the marketing potential of websites such as YouTube and Facebook.

"This is probably the first time that a campaign has achieved this sort of reach with so little advertising spend other than a few strategically placed job ads around the world," said Australian marketing analyst Tim Burrowes, editor of media and marketing website Mumbrella.   Continued...

<p>"The Best Job in the World" competition finalists George Karellas (L) of Ireland and Ben Southall of Britain sit on a mermaid statue during a media opportunity on Daydream Island, about 950km (590 miles) north of Brisbane, May 5, 2009. Karellas and Southall are two of 16 finalists from 15 nations in the tourism promotion competition aimed at attracting visitors to Australia's northeast tropical state of Queensland. The winner will earn A$150,000 ($110,000) in the role of "Island Caretaker" on the Great Barrier Reef for six months. REUTERS/Tourism Queensland/Eddie Safarik/Handout</p>