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.
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.
Jetlagged, stressed and swamped by media, the finalists for the “Best Job in the World Contest” still managed to “sing the praises of the natural wonder in a series of online blogs” … as if they could put out a series of printed blogs on short notice.
The competition finalists are in the midst of a three-day job interview of sorts on Hamilton Island in Queensland, with the winner emerging richer and set for the next six months.
What comes up next? Psychometric testing.
The finalists have been watched by a four-judge panel since they hit the ground on Hamilton Island, not to mention camera crews, photographers and journalists from all over the world. One candidate, Greg Ryan, likened the media attention to a “cameraman firing squad.”