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London and Sydney Knock Paris off the “Best City” Pedestal

October 2, 2013 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

These are the findings of the bi-annual Anholt-GfK City Brands Index (CBISM), which measures the power and appeal of each city’s brand image.

The study gives a holistic perspective of each city, looking at six key dimensions: Presence (the city’s international status and standing), Place (its physical aspect), Pre-requisites (basic requirements, such as affordable accommodation and the standard of public amenities), People, Pulse (interesting things to do) and Potential (the economic and educational opportunities).

Anholt-GfK City IndexSM 2013 Overall Brand Ranking: Top 10 of 50 Cities
1 London (2 in 2011)
2 Sydney (3)
3 Paris (1)
4 New York (4)
5 Rome (6)
6 Washington D.C. (7)
7 Los Angeles (5)
8 Toronto (13)
9 Vienna (9)
10 Melbourne (8)

Source: 2013 and 2011 Anholt-GfK City Brands IndexSM
2011 rankings are shown in parentheses

In addition to Paris dropping two positions, one other notable downward movement among top cities is Tokyo which has suffered a 7-position drop – from 10th place in 2011 to 17th in 2013. Amsterdam, on the other hand, has moved up from 17th in 2011 to 11th in 2013.

Simon Anholt, independent policy advisor on national identity and reputation, comments, “Our City Brands IndexSM is not just about any single aspect of a city’s image – it gives the full picture that includes the city’s social and cultural environment, its physical look and feel, its public services, educational and economic opportunities and the city’s contribution to the world. So, while Paris still takes top place for the individual Pulse measure, its overall Index ranking has been dragged down by its 13th and 14th places for the People and Pre-requisites measures. Even more worrying for Paris, its Potential Index score has experienced a large decline between 2011 and 2013, which should be a warning sign to all stakeholders of the city.”

Xiaoyan Zhao, Senior Vice President and Director of CBISM at GfK, adds, “Looking further into the momentum of the 50 cities, Paris has shown one of the three largest declines on the Potential Index, together with two other capital cities mired in economic hard times – Madrid and Tokyo. In contrast, the three greatest gainers in this area are Bangkok, Johannesburg and Istanbul – all in emerging markets. Emerging market cities generally rank in the second half of the overall Index, but recent significant gains on the Potential measure by some of these rising cities suggest that they may be steadily narrowing the gap with the established metropolitan centers of the West.”

Sydney voted safest city in the world, with the friendliest people

Looking at the People Index within the overall study, Sydney comes top for “warm and friendly people,” ahead of Toronto. Sydney also wins first place for visitors feeling safe in the city, followed by Geneva and Vienna.

Rio de Janeiro – the next city to host the World Cup and the Summer Olympics – has achieved an outstanding 3rd place for “warm and friendly people,” but, adds Simon Anholt, “it should be looking hard at other aspects critical for the success of these world events. For example, it currently only ranks 47th out of 50 cities for people ‘feeling safe within the city.’”

London wins first place as the city where visitors can “find people who appreciate my culture and with whom I could easily fit in,” ahead of Sydney in second place and New York coming in third. Other top ranked cities on “cultural fit” are all from outside of Europe.

Among emerging market cities, the highest ranked city for “friendly people” is Singapore at 20th, for “feeling safe within the city” is Prague at 23rd, and for “cultural fit,” it is a pair of cities tied for 29th – Rio de Janeiro and Prague. “Our clients come from both developed and developing countries keen on increasing their visibility and improving their reputation, one market at a time,” comments Xiaoyan Zhao, “our research helps them monitor where their actions are starting to be recognized and where gaps exist between behavior and perceptions so they can prioritize action as well as outreach.”

The following table shows the top five ranked cities on each of three People measures, as well as three additional cities with noteworthy positions on the list:

Friendly People Feel Safe Fit in With Culture
1 Sydney 1 Sydney 1 London
2 Toronto 2 Geneva 2 Sydney
3= Barcelona 3 Vienna 3 New York
3= Rio de Janeiro 4 Toronto 4 Los Angeles
3= Rome 5 London 5 Melbourne, Toronto (tie)
20 Singapore 23 Prague 29= Prague and
Rio de Janeiro
41 Beijing 47 Rio de Janeiro 36 Cape Town
50 Moscow 49 Cairo 47 Dubai

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