Lonely Planet Writer

Why Tokyo has the best reputation of any city in the world

When it comes to tourism, cities still rule the roost for many travellers who opt for a quick weekend break or for an urban base while exploring on a longer trip. These economic powerhouses can live or die on their reputation and Tokyo has soared to number one on a ranking of the world’s most reputable cities.

The Japanese city soared to the top of the index. Photo by Alexander Spatari

The annual ranking comes from the Reputation Institute. They asked more than 12,000 people about how they perceived 56 different cities, which were selected based on the size of their GDP. There were three general categories; an appealing environment, which takes the beauty of the city and the unique experiences available into account, trust, which includes safety and infrastructure, and the city’s economy.

Tokyo soared 11 places since last year’s index, driven by people’s perception of their effective government, leaders and the safety of their city. Copenhagen was by far perceived as the safest destination in the index for both residents and tourists. In general, however, city reputation is dropping worldwide, which can lead to less people visiting, moving to or investing.

The report called out some interesting trends that tourism officials should watch out for. Effective government is consistently more important than an appealing environment to a good reputation. For the first time also, the safety of a city has overtaken the beauty of the destination as the single most important factor driving reputation.

The report also differentiated between emotional and rational scores. For example, cities like Rome and Venice spark strong affinities with people but often fail to deliver on their reputation, which can lead to a gradual, more permanent drop in reputation. Meanwhile, Moscow and New York often ‘tick boxes’ for people in pragmatic ways, but don’t encourage an emotional connection. The report cites Tokyo and Berlin as good examples of cities that can maintain a balance between the two.

Copenhagen was seen as top for safety. Photo by william87/Getty Images

2018’s most reputable cities are:

1. Tokyo
2. Sydney
3. Copenhagen
4. Vienna
5. Stockholm
6. Venice
7. Rome
8. Zurich
9. Munich
10. Montreal

At the lower end of the scale, Moscow was regarded as the least reputable, followed by Cairo and Mexico City. However, experts say that reputation is very hard to score consistently, which means that everything is to play for in the cities of the future.