Ben Southall

“Best Job in the World” Contest Won by a Briton

May 06, 2009 02:00 PM
by Shannon Firth
Ben Southall, a 34-year-old charity fundraiser and event planner from Petersfield, England, has won the “Best Job in the World” contest, and will become caretaker of an island in Queensland, Australia.

“Adventurous” Briton to Be Island Caretaker

Ben Southall competed against 34,000 other applicants to win his dream job on Hamilton Island, just off the Great Barrier Reef. He spent the past several days with the 16 remaining finalists on the island completing the last leg of the competition, which included strolling, snorkeling, cooking and the all-important personal interview.

According to MSN's 9 News, the Queensland Tourism Web site accidentally revealed the winner of the contest a half-hour before the official announcement. The news channel reported, “Luckily, the candidates had no idea.”

In the one-minute video component of his application, Southall described himself as “the adventurous, crazy, energetic one.” His extensive list of hobbies substantiate these claims. Southall enjoys climbing, mountain biking, photography, bungee jumping, chasing solar eclipses and running marathons—including 5 in one year across the mountains of Africa.

His new position comes with a six-month contract, flexible hours, and a salary of about $105,000. Southall will be employed by the Australian state of Queensland, and expected to report to a global audience on his island experience via blog posts, photos and video updates, reports AFP. The position requires him to be a good swimmer and a strong communicator.

Job perks—besides the obvious—include free airfare from his home country to Hamilton Island, located on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as free rent in a three-bedroom home, complete with a pool and golf cart.

CNN reports that, besides the position being a true dream job, “it is … a very clever marketing ploy to boot,” as Queensland’s tourism board has received worldwide media coverage by advertising the job. The tourism board’s hope is that, once the position is filled, the caretaker’s multimedia journal will garner some attention of its own and entice travelers to visit.

Key Player: Ben Southall

The Web site, which promotes Southall's fundraising marathons across Africa, showcases his aptitude for writing, and demonstrates his talent for project development.

His profile describes Southall's first DIY project, saving his childhood home: “Detailed measurements were taken, calculations made, and, with a great deal of effort … he finally finished the last of countless DIY projects earnestly started, (but never finished) by Ben Snr.”

Background: Australia's Tourism Woes

Australia’s tourism industry, which employs thousands of people and is worth $62 billion annually, could use a boost, reports Voice of America. The already sagging industry will most likely be hit even harder by current recessions in Japan and the United States, which are major sources of tourists to the island nation; a new report says the number of foreign travelers visiting Australia next year could be the lowest since 1989. The study predicts that the fall could result in major job losses, including in Queensland, where tourism jobs make up 20 percent of total employment.

This isn’t the first time the country has heard bad news on the tourism front. In February 2006, Australian newspaper The Age reported that, despite fairly good tourism numbers the previous year, Australia was seeing tourism competition from cheaper destinations, such as China, India and Africa. Thanks in large part to rising fuel costs, “for more long-haul destinations such as Australia and New Zealand, growth is slowing," Australian Tourism Export Council managing director Matthew Hingerty told The Age.
In another unconventional tourism push, last year Australia’s tourism board invested heavily in Baz Luhrmann’s film “Australia,” hoping it would bring visitors to the country just like the movie “Crocodile Dundee” had nearly 25 years ago. A term has even been coined—“The Crocodile Dundee Effect”—to describe the burst of tourism the film caused in the 1980s.

With the country’s tourism rates falling, the board hoped “Australia” would provide the push it needed, and reportedly invested $50 million for international advertising of the film, which featured beautiful landscapes of the country.

Other countries have enjoyed the “Crocodile Dundee Effect” from films, including New Zealand after the “Lord of the Rings” films were released. 

Reference: Australia Travel Guide


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