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Ben and Sophee Southall in Alba Iulia

11 July 2017

Ben Southall from Petersfield, UK, made headlines in 2009 when he became the proud winner of the "Best Job in the World", widely regarded as one of the most successful tourism campaigns of its kind. The campaign received extensive media attention, succeeding to increase international awareness of the Great Barrier Reef islands, combining social and traditional media to capture the public’s imagination and engage them in conversations about visitor experiences.

Selected from not less than 34,000 applicants from over 200 countries, Ben became the Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, a six month contract job which mostly meant promoting to a world-wide audience what the region of the Australian state of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef had to offer. The job came along with a generous salary, a rent-free luxury accommodation and the unique opportunity to uncover the beauties of that mesmerizing part of the world. Following his selection, he spent time travelling around and promoting the area as a tourist destination worldwide, his main duties involving to update a blog with photos, videos and diary entries documenting his adventures. He also presented his own six-part documentary series broadcast internationally by National Geographic Adventure Channel during his epic experience. The job turned out to be extremely demanding and exhausting and he used to call it “the busiest job in the world”, but in spite of pressures and challenges, overall Ben’s experience was a positive one and in the end he became Queensland’s "tourism ambassador", working with Tourism Australia and Tourism New Zealand. Now he even runs his own film company that specialises in adventure and travel film making.

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Ben also paraded as a Roman and even attempted and set a difficult world record for cycling around the Alba Carolina Citadel 100 times (an 11hr, 275km bike tour) and created a delicious signature dessert with one of Romania's finest chefs. As for Sophee, she proudly dressed a beautiful folk costume.

They roamed amongst citadels, castles and cathedrals; explored underground glaciers and caves; tried specialties from the traditional Romanian cuisine, joined families for home-cooked feasts and even participated in a traditional wedding; joined art lessons and took lots of photographs and films that they are going to promote in future posts.

They even held two captivating digital media marketing training on topics like how to generate and how to market engaging social / digital media content and, at the end of their stay in Alba Iulia, Ben hold a conference called ”Finding your Best Job in the World and making it a lifestyle”, sharing his insight into the importance of happiness and how it relates to professional life.

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It was a rewording off-the-beaten-track meant to showcase all the unexpecting beauties in and around Alba Iulia, “a world of unexpected adventures and unique cultural experiences” (Ben and Sophee Southall) and everything was organised under INTERACTIVE CITIES, a project funded by the URBACT III European Program which aims at exploring how digital, social media and user generated content can improve today’s urban management in the European cities, no matter their size. At present, back home in Queensland, Ben and Sophee are back home, continuing their adventures but also writing and editing fantastic materials about Alba Iulia to share with their audience. As a farewell post on Twitter, they described the visit in Romania as “simply the most wonderful travel adventure”.

Municipality of Alba Iulia