A 34-year old Briton named Ben Southall has won The Contest of All Contests -- he's going to live in a three-bedroom villa on a tropical island in the barrier reef, get paid over $100,000 and blog about his daily chores of snorkeling, swimming, hiking, tanning, boating and other such tiresome efforts.
I mentioned this contest previously, and the winner, who is a charity fundraiser and already something of an adventure traveler is, of course, delighted to be the winner:
"It’s amazing,” an ecstatic Mr Southall told The Times today, while already dressed in his regulatory island wear of boardshorts and flip flops. “You think of a three of four bedroom house in England and it has nice red bricks and is quite small but this house is a dream, it’s enormous and looks out over the Coral Sea and at least 4 or 5 people can stay at any one time.
“I stayed in a tent on top of my Landrover while I travelled through Africa last year, so this is going to be a very welcome difference.”
Tourism Queensland, which came up with the novel marketing approach, predicts the interest in the competition has generated $AU110 million in international publicity.
Mr Southall spent time in Africa working as a tour guide and driver after leaving university and cites riding an ostrich, bungee jumping, scuba diving and finding new adventures as his favoured achievements.
He was selected from a final group of 16 applicants, who came from 15 different countries, and were flown to Hamilton Island last week for a final series of tests, including demonstrating their swimming abilities, snorkeling and being pampered at a luxurious island resort.
Queensland Tourism Minister Peter Lawlor said he believed Mr Southall, who had described himself in his initial application as the "adventurous, crazy energetic one" in his application, would build up a loyal online following after taking up the position on July 1.
"His ideas for how he will make the role his own, plus his initiative and ability to rise to a challenge, impressed the selection panel and secured his place in the top job," Mr Lawlor said
Mr Southall, whose parents celebrated his win this morning over a champagne breakfast at home in Hampshire, plans to bring his Canadian girlfriend with him for his six-month sojourn on the island."
Southall may just have found the best way to ride out the current economic nightmare.