SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - It may sound like a paid holiday, but the winner of “best job in the world” said he intends to work hard promoting tourism to an Australian state as he set off for his first day in the office: a tropical island.
Briton Ben Southall flew out on Wednesday to Hamilton Island, in the Great Barrier Reef, to start his six-month caretaker duties, for which he will be paid A$150,000 ($121,000).
Southall, 34, was picked from 16 finalists in a highly publicised contest that was part of an innovative marketing campaign by Tourism Queensland which attracted almost 35,000 video entries from some 200 countries.
“Everyone’s promoting this as the ultimate six month’s hammock time,” Southall told Australian media.
“To me and to the rest of Tourism Queensland we know that it’s a job. We know it’s a real position and there is a lot of hard work to come. I’ve got to be an ambassador for Queensland, selling it to the world.”
Southall’s duties include exploring the islands of the Great Barrier Reef and reporting back to Tourism Queensland and the world via blogs, a photo diary, video updates and interviews.
If he wants, he can also clean the pool and feed the fish.
Southall, accompanied by his girlfriend, said he was looking forward to living on a “nice piece of paradise,” but added he would miss his mother’s cooking.
“I probably will miss my mum’s Sunday roasts, but I’m going to be learning new foods on the barbecue, I suppose,” he said.
The “Best Job in the World” campaign began in January, and within days was one of the most popular items on the Internet, highlighting the marketing potential of social networking sites such as YouTube and Facebook.
Tourism Queensland hailed the advertising campaign as an enormous success, calculating the $1.7 million spent had reaped almost $200 million in global publicity.
The campaign also set a record at the Cannes International Advertising Festival in June when it took out an unprecedented three Grand Prix awards in recognition of the global media exposure it generated.
($1=1.240 Australian dollar)
Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by Jerry Norton