Briton wins dream job in £50m PR coup for Australian tourism• Ex-tour guide, 34, beats 35,000 others worldwide
• Competition hailed as great publicity stunt
It was billed as the world's greatest job, a chance to relax in one of the planet's most beautiful places for six months and be paid £73,000 for the privilege. But as a 34-year-old Briton won a competition to be appointed "caretaker" of a remote Australian island yesterday, the real winner was the Queensland tourism board, which has pulled off a great PR stunt by generating well over £50m of free publicity.
News that Ben Southall, an ostrich riding, bungee jumping charity worker from Petersfield, Hampshire, had beaten almost 35,000 hopefuls to be put in notional charge of Hamilton island on the Great Barrier Reef was gazetted around the world. By lunchtime, almost 1,000 articles on his appointment were accessible via Google News, with media organisations in China, Canada, the US, Germany, Russia and Indonesia running the story.
Southall, a former tour guide, starts "work" on 1 July and will live for free in a three-bedroom oceanfront villa with a pool and sweeping views. He is contracted to work only 12 hours a month and has duties as arduous as snorkelling and feeding the fish. But his main job is as an ambassador, writing blogs and raising awareness of the island.
The job is part of a A$1.7m (£840,000) tourism campaign to publicise northeastern Queensland and officials say it has already generated more than A$110m (£50m) worth of publicity. Yesterday Queensland's premier, Anna Bligh, called the contest "the most successful tourism marketing campaign in history".Read more.......