by Rob Hard
Thursday May 07 2009

I have to admit that I like the fact that “one of our own” may have been hired to fill the role of Island Caretaker for the Great Barrier Reef, a six month position created by Tourism Queensland to promote this region of Australia as part of a marketing campaign. Too often, finalists and winners of “reality” job contests seem to catch the interests of those from every walk of life other than individuals who actually work in the field.

Peter Lawlor (Minister for Tourism), Ben Southall (Island Caretaker), Anna Bligh (Queensland Premier), Best Job in the World. Courtesy of Eddie Safarik / Tourism Queensland

While I don’t know his professional background, Ben Southall, 34, was chosen among nearly 35,000 applicants to fill what is essentially a marketing contract position for six months — and earning 150,000 AUD (about 110,000 USD). Southall’s bio reflects that he is a a project manager and fundraiser from England.

And while many can easily find themselves envious of Southall, we should probably be even more envious of Tourism Queensland. reports that this 1.7 million AUD campaign has already received more than 110 million AUD in value. So I’d say that Southall has covered the cost of his pay — even before he officially begins the event job (is this really a job…). What will he do? Southall will travel the islands of the Great Barrier Reef and produce weekly blogs, a photo diary, video updates and participate in ongoing media interviews to help promote the area.

Queensland hosts more than 2 million international visitors each year. Business travel accounts for about 13% of Australian travel to Queensland, and we’re in the process of trying to identify what percentage of international visitors arrive in Queensland for business travel. I’ll update you when we receive this information.

View Ben Southall’s application video.

Check out hotel rates for Brisbane, Australia.

Check out hotel rates for Sydney, Australia.

Learn more about Queensland travel and Southall’s island caretaker role.