• Transform magazine
  • October 01, 2023


Paris tops New York as strongest tourism city brand


With the global Covid-19-induced lockdown, cities have had to compete more than ever before to build solid brands that will attract tourists.

The ‘City Brand Barometer 2020’ conducted by branding consultancy Saffron, which measures the global cities having the strongest brands to attract tourists, identified Paris as top of the rank, beating New York.

Saffron selected 109 cities with the strongest and fastest growing tourism sectors and assessed their asset, including a city’s features, and its reputation and perception about it, before identifying Paris at the top of the ranking, followed by London.

“Whilst in stable times it may be possible for a city to rely on assets such as cultural sites or national parks, when disruptive change occurs, those that invested in their brand are the ones that are able to continue attracting visitors and support their tourism industry,” says Fernando Ortiz Ehmann, chief strategy officer at Saffron.

At the top of the ‘Challengers’ list, or those cities with strong tourism brands may look set to challenge the top 10 in the near future, are Asian giants Seoul, Bangkok, Beijing and Hong Kong. Furthermore, Kyoto, Prague and St. Petersburg stand out for their high numbers of attractions, with Kyoto outperforming Tokyo in that respect.

The ‘ones to watch,’ on the other hand, such as Hong Kong, Buenos Aires and Bangalore, have scored in the top 10 for reputation but not for overall ranking, indicating that their assets are not as strong as they could be. They can improve if the countries invest in their natural environment, leverage existing untapped potential or shift the focus of their marketing efforts.

At the bottom of list are those cities that rank high on assets yet have an average-to-low reputation score and lack positive perceptions, such as Shanghai, Brisbane and Athens, which have 0.8-0.9 points in brand strength compared to the 2.9 and 2.6 of Paris and London respectively. The first step to identify areas improvement and develop more credible tourism brands is to explore why perceptions are not line with their offerings, the barometer suggests.

“This is the perfect time to work on brand. Of course it is a means to an end. It cannot neutralise the effects of Covid, we may very well have to prepare for a longer term reality of life with Covid, and brand can help cities to be relevant to tourists in the new normal,” says CEO of Saffron Jacob Benbunan.