Ben Southall, the guy getting paid A$150,000 to gallivant around the Great Barrier Reef Region (and write about it) has come under fire for not blogging all that often. Tourism Queensland, who sponsored the “best job in the world” contest, blamed the lack of blog posts on poor Internet access and the fact that well, Ben’s just too busy “working”. Somehow, I don’t think those of us who spend our days in a windowless office have much sympathy for poor Ben.
To help Ben with some of his workload, he and Tourism Queensland are planning on launching another contest – this time to find four assistants. At this point there are no additional details on the positions or what the application process will entail, but Ben promises he’ll give us the scoop soon. Hopefully, he can find the time.
The workers are engaged to develop the island’s yacht club. Currently, they’re being housed in Palm Valley, which has been called “vastly inadequate.” Up to six people are being stuffed into four-person apartments, and the rooms themselves are small. The union claims that the living conditions are in breach of the original terms.
Elsewhere on Hamilton Island, the best job in the world involves a hefty salary relative to the obligations and nice digs in a luxury villa.
So, what does Park View Group CEO Geg Thompson – the man who writes the checks – say about this? Nobody’s forcing the workers to stay.
Ben Southall became the envy of many when he beat out 34,000 other applicants and was awarded the “best job in the world” – the chance to spend six months in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef region. He even got to bring his girlfriend along for the adventure. In exchange for priceless experiences and A$150,000, Southall was to detail his adventures on regular blog posts.
But, according to The Courier-Mail, some people feel that Southall hasn’t keep up his end of the bargain. Since the job started on July 1, Southall has logged just seven posts. Tourism Queensland blames difficulties with Internet access for the skimpy posting and says that they are pleased with Southall’s performance so far, especially given his hectic schedule. Tourism Queensland also claims that Southall has conducted over 50 interviews and has a documentary crew filming his every move. From what is posted on the blog, it does seem as though Southall has a very busy schedule, with dawn-to-dusk activities planned nearly every day. Tourism Queensland also said that they were looking at ways to clear up Southall’s schedule a bit.
Hopefully they can work things out and allow Southall more time to blog. And if it turns out that Tourism Queensland isn’t pleased with his performance, I’m sure they’ll have no trouble finding a willing replacement!
The North Island position doesn’t pay a dime, but volunteer manager Jill Smith says the place has “got to be the second best” and that “there’s nothing plastic fantastic or flashy about us … [w]e’re just without the deep pockets of Australia’s tourism boards.”
Aroha Island is 400 meters by 200 meters, not leaving much room to wander around, but it needs someone to keep an eye on it. New Zealand media outlets pushed the opportunity to the world, ultimately leading to 150 quality applications from places as far as the United States, India, Pakistan and Mexico. Ten Australians applied – strangely, mostly from Queensland.
Ben Southall will spend six months swimming, blogging and soaking in the sun. Tourism Queensland picked the Brit from 16 finalists yesterday – not to mention 34,700 video entries from nearly 200 countries. The job pays A$150,000 (US$110,000) for Southall’s “efforts.”
His thoughts: “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.”
My thoughts: Don’t hurt yourself, Ben. Nobody’s really expecting anything profound from a publicity stunt.
To secure his new gig, Southall overcame finalists from 15 countries, including students, journalists, a receptionist and an actress. Oh, and a porn star. MSNBC forgot that one.
Meanwhile, Tourism Queenland‘s already thinking ahead. This gimmick could become an annual event.