This year’s list of the best cities in the world has been released, and it’s more than just a matter of hometown pride.
To determine which locales would make the grade this year, real estate, tourism, and economic development advisors Resonance Consultancy analyzed the world’s major cities, those in metropolitan areas with populations of a million-plus, using a methodology that considered factors like diversity, safety, and GDP alongside Instagram hashtags, Facebook check-ins, and popularity on Google Trends.
The survey ranked each city in 22 categories across six core sectors: Place, measuring a city’s natural and built environments; People, measuring diversity and educational attainment; Product, examining key institutions, attractions, and infrastructure; Prosperity, measuring economic security; Programming, quantifying food, shows, shopping, and nightlife; and Promotion, measuring media coverage, online articles, references and place-based recommendations.
Resonancy “took a more holistic approach,” president and CEO Chris Fair wrote in the report’s introduction, looking at “key performance indicators both in terms of measuring existing desirability and forecasting the future prosperity of a city.” Here are the firm’s top-ten performers for 2020.
Even with Brexit looming, England’s capital took top honors for the third year running, thanks in part to its high visitation numbers – international travelers made 19.1 million trips to London in 2018, and nearly 50 million people overnighted there in 2017. It also earns high marks for its educational opportunities, ranking second in the world for percentage of the population with at least a post-secondary education and eleventh for the quality of its universities, and also its restaurants, nightlife, culture, and shopping, ranking first in the world for its programming.
2. New York
America’s top-ranking city, New York moved up a spot this year on the international list from its previous third-place finish, topping the culture subcategory, placing fifth in the world for museums, eighth in neighborhoods and landmarks, and tenth in airport connectivity (measured by direct flights). The city also welcomed 53 million domestic travelers and 13.9 million international travelers in 2019, marking the tenth year in a row with increased tourism
Between multiple terrorist attacks and the fire at Notre Dame, 2019’s second-place city had a tough year. But even with those tragedies, Paris received 38 million international visitors, and the country is targeting 100 million for 2020. Ranking first in the world in shopping, second in neighborhoods and landmarks, third in the product category, and seventh for attractions, the City of Light ranks sixth in the world for its 100-plus museums and boasts the second-best airport connectivity in the world.
With a metro population of nearly 37.5 million and the infrastructure to match, Tokyo is a major draw for Japan’s 30 million overseas guests. The sprawling metropolis is second in the world in both restaurants and Global 500 companies, fourth in museums, and fifth in the Place category, ranking sixth for neighborhoods and landmarks and sixteenth for outdoors. It’s also one of the safer cities on the list, ranking fourth for lack of homicides per capita.
The top-hashtagged city on Instagram and the best in the world for both museums and airport connectivity, the Russian capital moved up a spot this year, ranking second in the Place category thanks to a mix of architectural masterpieces like St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, and Red Square and offbeat bars, high-fashion boutiques, and restaurants with locally-sourced cuisine. Its constant presence in the news cycle probably didn't hurt either.
Jumping three spots this year is Dubai, home to the world’s tallest building, tallest choreographed fountains, and richest horse race, all of which helped it reach #3 in the Place category, #5 in the outdoors category, and #6 in safety. The UAE’s flashiest city also ranks thirtieth in shopping, with both the most-visited mall and the first nature-inspired mall on the planet, featuring 200,000 square feet of open-air gardens, a 360-degree rooftop park, a Japanese garden, and a mini water park, and it’ll have the tallest building in the world when Santiago Calatrava finishes his Tower at Dubai Creek this year.
After celebrating its bicentennial last year, Singapore proper is ranked fourth in both safety and GDP per capita, but its highly praised Changi Airport is an attraction in its own right – even though the city itself only comes in at #42 for airport connectivity. Millions of people – passengers and locals alike – pass through the new $1.7-billion facility on an annual basis to browse the luxury shops, try the gourmet restaurants, and gawk at the singular sites, from the canopy bridge to the indoor waterfall.
From the great weather to the generous beaches to the amazing eats to the jaw-dropping architecture, the Catalonian capital ranks third in global nightlife, seventh in the Place category, and eighth in Promotion. It’s also managed to curb Airbnb’s reign and implement solutions for its overtourism issues, though it did drop down a few rungs since its 2019 fifth-place finish.
9. Los Angeles
Cracking the top ten for the first time ever, Los Angeles received 50 million international visitors in 2018, with that number only expected to grow during the next decade. The host of the 2028 summer Olympics, the city ranks seventh in promotion and fourth in universities, and while it may not perform well for airport connectivity, LAX is undergoing a $1.6-billion facelift and a direct transit link to and from the city center is in the works.
Another newcomer to the top ten, the Eternal City shot up four places this year with its signature blend of modern amenities and ancient history. Finishing fourth in the Place category, including #4 for Neighborhoods & Landmarks; fifth in Promotion, with plenty of Google searches; and sixth in shopping, it’s one of the world’s most popular destinations for a host of good reasons.
To see the complete list of 100, visit resonanceco.com.