'Best job' contenders on Aussie island

HAMILTON ISLAND: Candidates for "the best job in the world" arrived at Hamilton Island on Australia's Great Barrier Reef Sunday, each hoping to become temporary caretaker of the tropical paradise.

The 16 contenders were selected from more than 34,000 applications in a global publicity campaign that organisers described as wildly successful, snaring an estimated 100 million dollars (70 million US) in free publicity.

Tourism Queensland's shortlist features candidates from 15 countries, including Korean journalist Juweon Kim, Japanese receptionist Mieko Kobayashi, manager Yi Yao from China, sports teacher Greg Reynen from Singapore and Indian DJ Anjaan RJ.

Taiwanese interpreter Clare Wang won a wildcard spot among the finalists after attracting 151,676 votes from the public in an online poll, almost three times as many as her closest rivals.

The hopefuls will be vying to become caretaker of Hamilton Island, receiving 150,000 Australian dollars (about 100,000 US) for six months' work in the tourist paradise.

The winner will be expected to have as much fun as possible -- soaking up the sun, swimming, snorkeling, sailing -- and report to a global audience via weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates.

Tourism Queensland chief executive said the candidates, who all received free airfares to Australia for the competition, arrived Sunday and inspected the luxury three-bedroom villa where the winner will be based.

"The candidates will have a ball but they all know they will be under the microscope because we need to ensure the successful candidate is someone who can capture and hold world attention," he said.

The winner of the final selection process will be announced on Wednesday.