Eighteen people are one step closer to securing the “Best Jobs In the World.”

Tourism Australia’s wildly successful marketing campaign, which offers six dream jobs throughout the continent, is in its last stages, and the 18 finalists will have to demonstrate in person in Australia this June that they’re fit for the work.

“After six weeks, 620,000 applications by 333,000 individuals from 196 countries, 46,000 video entries and thousands of supporting references from some of the most famous celebrities in the world, we are down to the final 18,” boasted Andrew McEvoy, managing director of Tourism Australia.

“It’s show time,” he added. “The candidates now face their very own Australian working holiday -- a week of tests and challenges which will ultimately decide who ends up winning these six dream jobs.”

Of the 18 candidates, the United States has the largest contingency, with five people in the running. France and England each have two hopefuls, while the remaining candidates come from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Scotland and Taiwan. Each was selected based on their original 30-second video entry and success in securing a high-profile endorsement and the attendant publicity.

Tourism Australia will announce the ultimate winners in Sydney on June 21. A few weeks later on Aug. 1, they will be back on the ground in Australia fulfilling their roles as a wildlife caretaker in South Australia, a park ranger in Queensland, a “taste master” in Western Australia, an Outback Adventurer in Northern Territory, a lifestyle photographer in Melbourne and a “chief funster” in New South Wales.

While the whole stunt may seem like a tease to bombard the world with classic Australian imagery -- and it most certainly is -- it’s also about attracting young people from around the world to Australia’s Working Holiday Maker program to fill a glut of open positions, predominantly in the nation’s tourism, hospitality and agriculture industries.

A recent study found that, in the tourism and hospitality sector alone, Australia has about 36,000 vacancies, mainly for housekeepers, waiters, baristas and the like.

The “Best Jobs in the World” campaign appears to fulfilling its goal of luring workers Down Under. Tourism Australia released a survey Wednesday that revealed seven out of 10 people who entered the competition are planning to apply for an Australian working holiday visa, while four out of 10 are seriously considering a working holiday within the next six months.

McEvoy said the results showed that the competition was already having a positive impact on promoting Australia abroad not only as a desirable holiday destination, but a place for temporary work as well.

"Whilst much of the attention has focused on the six dream jobs, we shouldn't forget the real purpose of this campaign -- to inspire more young people to come Down Under by increasing awareness and uptake of our Working Holiday Maker program,” McEvoy said. “Early indications, supported by these survey results, indicate that we're ticking those boxes."

Residents from 29 nations, including the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan, who are between the ages of 18 and 30 are eligible to work in Australia for up to one year.

Tourism officials figure the youth segment accounts for 1.6 million visitors annually, or 27 percent of the nation’s arrivals, and injects A$12 billion into the economy. Of those, at least 160,000, or 10 percent, are on working holidays at any given time, pumping A$2.5 billion into the Australian economy each year while simultaneously filling unwanted jobs.

The 18 “Best Jobs in the World” finalists are:

Wildlife Caretaker (South Australia)

   •    Hsin Hsuan Hsieh, Taiwan

   •    Greg Snell, Canada

   •    Nick Tilley, USA

Chief Funster (New South Wales)

   •    Holly Easterbrook, England

   •    Brittany Macleod, USA

   •    Andrew Smith, USA

Park Ranger (Queensland)

   •    Elisa Detrez, France

   •    Chris Leung, Hong Kong

   •    Jo Muskus, Scotland

Taste Master (Western Australia)

   •    Rich Keam, England

   •    Rebecca Morris, USA

   •    Julian Button, Germany

Outback Adventurer (Northern Territory)

   •    Allan Dixon, Ireland

   •    Graham Freeman, USA

   •    Aude Mayans, France

Lifestyle Photographer (Melbourne, Victoria)

   •    Moska Najib, Afghanistan

   •    Marie Michiels, Belgium

   •    Roberto Seba, Brazil