World's best job: only bikini babes need apply

Tourism Queensland continues to cop a battering over its Best Job in the World campaign, with fresh complaints of ageism emerging.

Organisers behind the island caretaker job search - a marketing pitch designed to lure overseas tourists to the Great Barrier Reef - have been accused of choosing only young people "who looked cute in a bikini or... guy(s) with a washboard stomach" in a shortlist of 50 applicants announced last week.

Nearly 35,000 people applied for the caretaker's position - a six-month, $150,000 "job" to tour the reef and blog about their experiences there.

In a letter of complaint penned to Tourism Queensland CEO Anthony Hayes, Canadian "baby boomer" and caretaker reject Mandy Spottiswoode said the government authority had misled applicants about the type of candidate it wanted.

"The original promotion stated that they were looking for someone who would enthusiastically promote Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef," Ms Spottiswoode wrote.

"Nothing was said about age, or lack of it, being a primary qualification. Of the 50 shortlisted candidates, only a couple look as if they could possibly be over 35. Not only is this discrimination based on age, but it is ignoring the demographics of those who have the money and leisure time to travel, namely the baby boomers.

"If you wanted someone who looked cute in a bikini or a guy with a washboard stomach, you should have said so. Then all of us over a certain age could have saved ourselves the considerable amount of time we put into preparing our videos."

Tourism Queensland has dismissed the criticism, insisting age was not a factor it in the selection process.

A spokeswoman said it was to be expected that some of the nearly-35,000 people who did not make the cut would be disappointed.

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"Tourism Queensland has been contacted by people who were unhappy that they were not shortlisted ... (but) to be fair and equitable to all applicants, we must ensure that a consistent approach for processing and short-listing applicants has been adopted," she said.

"We have also received hundreds of emails from applicants congratulating us on the campaign.

"However, the technical nature and physical requirements of the role meant there would have been more younger people who applied."

Three Queenslanders were on Tuesday named among the top 50 vying for the gig - a 20-year-old Brisbane business student, a professional photographer and a seasoned television presenter and former Sea World dolphin trainer, who hosts cable travel show Escape.

Ms Spottiswoode said the choice of people with television experience, including a Canadian television host, was also unfair.

"But wasn't the whole idea to hire an ordinary person, who will enthusiastically encourage other ordinary people from around the world to visit the GBR?" she said.

"There are loads of travel shows with great looking presenters and they certainly serve as a good way to promote the area being featured - I thought this was supposed to be something different."

"Mostly, I feel that TQ was not honest to the contestants. This was a brilliant idea, which, in my opinion, has now become much less interesting than it could have been. I have been left with a distinctly bitter taste in my mouth."

Disgruntled applicants have complained that technical failures which caused the TQ website to crash on the eve of the international deadline last month cost them a shot at the job.

However, the campaign has been hailed a major marketing winner over the level of interest it managed to generate, making headlines around the world.

A spokeswoman said Tourism Queensland was extremely happy with how the campaign had run overall.

"We have never done anything like this before, so obviously we're learning as we go."

Of the shortlisted 50, 11 people - including a "wild card" entrant voted for by the public - will be flown to Hamilton Island for a final interview.

Taiwanese applicant Clare Wang is leading the wild card race, with more than 38,000 votes on the http://www.islandreefjob.com.au website.

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