Ben Southall, a charity worker from the United Kingdom has been appointed the new caretaker of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef, after beating 34,000 other applicants to the post dubbed “The Best Job in the World.”

This new position requires Southall live, swim, and play every day, then record his adventures for the world via blogs, photos, video updates and media interviews. Not bad for AUD $150,000 and six months worth of work.

Earlier this month, 16 finalists arrived on Hamilton Island, where the caretaker will be based, for a four day extended interview. After a swimming test and a tour of the island, the candidates explored the Blue Pearl Villa – a.k.a. the caretaker’s residence – a private, three bedroom cottage with views of the Whitsunday islands.

The successful candidate, Tourism Queensland CEO Anthony Hayes said, would be “someone who can capture and hold world attention.”

While Southall’s application video (embedded below) shows that he certainly can grab attention, and the publicity stunt dreamed up by Tourism Queensland has certainly been successful in giving Australian tourism a global profile, one question remains: Can the social Web interest translate into future tourism dollars for Australia – and more specifically Queensland? According to Hayes, “that’s the million dollar question.”