This city has the World's best reputation - study

Sydney has the world’s best city reputation according to Reputation Institute’s 2013 City RepTrak Study, which surveys more than 22,000 people from the G8 countries.

Fieldwork took place between January and February 2013.

The yearly City RepTrak® Study ranks the world’s 100 most reputable cities based on levels of trust, esteem, admiration and respect, as well as perceptions regarding 13 attributes, grouped into three dimensions: 'Advanced Economy' (headquarters to many leading companies, technologically advanced, financially stable…), 'Appealing Environment' (a beautiful city, a safe city…) and 'Effective Government' (favorable environment for doing business, run by well-respected leaders, progressive social, economic and environmental policies…).

Study results confirm the link between city reputations and economic outcomes. 'People have images of a city on their mind when they are deciding to go on holiday there, to live or work there, or to buy products originated there. Our modeling demonstrates that a city that knows how to effectively manage its reputation can attract more tourists, greater investment or a bigger influx of talent', says Fernando Prado, responsible for the Place Reputation Unit of Reputation Institute.

Along with Sydney, which received a score of 77.4 on a 100-point scale, the top five cities include: Toronto (76.9), Stockholm (76.9), Vienna (76.9) and Venice (75.8). At the opposite end of the scale are Cairo (46.1), Nairobi (44.4), Karachi (43.5), Tehran (32.1) and Baghdad (28.5). Europe has a clear dominance of the global reputation stage, with an average of 76.5 points and 15 cities listed within the top twenty. The European cities additionally improved by an average of 3.1 points in relation to 2012 scores, compared to a global average increase of just 1.4 points.

'The cities with the best reputations are those which have been able to maintain a balance and certain leadership in each of the three dimensions of our model, while those cities with a poor reputation show bias towards fewer of the mentioned dimensions. The results of our study also demonstrate that neither the number of inhabitants nor the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is an essential factor in the construction of a good reputation. In fact, none of the cities in the top ten of the RepTrak® Study appear in the top ten in all of the aforementioned variables', added Prado.

The results also highlight the key drivers of a good reputation: the beauty of the urban environment (the most influential); safety; the cultural, gastronomy and entertainment offering; or standards of living, all of which are common characteristics of the top five cities. Occasionally the size of a city helps in building a good reputation. New York, Tokyo and Beijing for example are always put under the spotlight by the media and this interest also translates to the general public in the form of a desire to visit, etc. However, managing reputation and managing awareness are two distinct fields. Many other factors also intervene which, like social, political or cultural, are just as important as the economic ones.

'The larger a city is, the more complicated it becomes to manage. This is one of the reasons that explain why, with the exception of London, the top ten in the RepTrak® Study features only medium-sized cities. Our study shows us that those managing cities also need to pay attention to the finer details that ultimately define the relationship with stakeholders, rather than focus solely on the headline figures of tourist arrivals or product sales. Destinations, like businesses, need to pay attention to their reputation', concludes Prado.


1. The reputation of a country affects the reputation of its cities

There is a demonstrated correlation between the reputation of a city and the reputation of the country in which it is located. In general terms, the reputation of a city is slightly above that of its respective country, although there are some notable exceptions. For example, three of the Chinese cities measured in the study (Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou) have a reputation vastly superior (by 23.5, 16.7 and 14.8 points respectively) to that of China (44 points). Conversely, three Australian cities (Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide) have a reputation below (by 11.2, 8.2 and 5.5 points respectively) the reputation of Australia (76.1 points)

2. American cities continue to improve their reputations

The worst appears to be over for the American cities, who this year re-enforced the improvement in their reputations. New York increases 7.8 points, making it the city with the best reputation in the USA. Boston improves by 7.3 points; Los Angeles, 4.5 points; Miami, 4.0 points; Washington DC, 3.7 points; and Las Vegas, 3.0 points.

3. Cities in Italy and Greece are recovering

The recovery of both Greece’s and Italy’s reputations recorded in the Country RepTrak® Study 2013 is also reflected in their cities. Athens, which fell 14 points in 2012, this year improves by 7.6 points. For its part, in Italy, Venice increases 6.3 points; Florence, 5.3; Rome and Milan, 4.2.

4. The 'emerging' cities are trending downwards

While the growth in the reputations of emerging countries such as Mexico, South Korea, Brazil, Taiwan, Indonesia or Malaysia is positive, the reputations of the cities in these countries fall by a combined average of 3.0 points.

5. Awareness helps, but awareness alone is not sufficient

Being a well-known city is not synonymous with having a good reputation. Sydney (1st in the 2013 ranking), Stockholm (3rd) and Vienna (4th) all have awareness levels significantly below those of Paris, New York, Rome or Tokyo, yet these last four cities have a worse reputation. The cities with a good reputation, yet insufficient levels of awareness have a clear communication opportunity.

6. Europe dominates the global stage in reputation

European cities lead the ranking with an average reputation of 69.8 points, almost two points above the average of the cities in North America (68.1). Asia-Pacific cities have on average a reputation of 57.3 points, while the Latin-American city average is 55.5 points. The cities with the worst reputations are African, with an average of 53.2 points.

image: © Herry Lawford

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