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Press release
Press|Travel and Hospitality|Australia|English

Sydney earns a spot back in the top three

Nuremberg, 30.01.2018

  • Sydney knocks New York off 3rd place, while Melbourne jumps from 9th to 7th                
  • Tokyo records greatest score gain of all 50 cities

The latest Anholt-GfK City Brands IndexSM (CBISM) reveals that Paris retains its position at the top. For the fourth time since the survey began, the global public regards Paris as the highest rated out of 50 cities. Australian cities also show improvement: Sydney overtakes New York (4th) to earn a spot back in the top three and Melbourne jumps to 7th place, surpassing Amsterdam (8th) and Berlin (10th). These are some of the findings from CBISM, a biennial study conducted in September and October of 2017. 

2017 rank


2015 rank

Score change 2017 vs. 2015














New York




Los Angeles
















San Francisco







CBISM scores range from 1-100. Score changes: small: +/-0.26-0.50; medium: +/-0.51-1.00; large: > +/-1.00

The study evaluates the power and appeal of each city’s image, providing a holistic and detailed perspective based on six key dimensions: 

• Presence (the city’s international status and standing)

• Place (its physical outdoors aspect and transport)

• Prerequisites (basic requirements, such as affordable accommodations and the standard of public amenities)

• People (friendliness, cultural diversity, how safe one feels)

• Pulse (interesting things to do)

• Potential (the economic and educational opportunities available).

CBISM also demonstrates the precariousness of cities resting on their nation’s brand. A number of cities underperform their nation’s standing as established in this year’s Nation Brands IndexSM. Berlin is a prime example, just managing to hold onto a spot within the top-tier of cities. “This might be surprising given that Germany as a country took 1st place in the 2017 Nation Brands Index rankings and boasted the most balanced image of all nations surveyed”, Vadim Volos, senior vice president of Social and Strategic Research and head of CBISM at GfK, comments. ”This shows that cities cannot rest on their nation’s brand, they must cultivate their own unique images as well. “

Western cities tend to dominate the top half of cities, and in previous years, Western cities benefitted noticeably more than Eastern cities in the global public’s estimations. 2017 shows a change in fortunes with marked improvement for many that is not constrained by region or developmental stage. For example, Tokyo is one of only a handful of non-Western cities that resides within the top half of cities. After experiencing a score decline in 2013, Tokyo has rebuilt and grown its image in the two consecutive CBISM studies. Tokyo enjoys the greatest score gain of any city (+1.79) in 2017’s CBISM to draw to a tie for 11th position with Vancouver, surpassing Madrid, Barcelona, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Vienna.

Looking at CBISM’s Middle Eastern and African regions, Dubai is the only city within this region measured that does not rest within the bottom tier of cities. Dubai falls narrowly outside the top half (27th), with its Presence (15th) and Place (16th) rankings anchoring and propelling its image. Though Dubai is the city within the region with the best reputation, Durban wins the award for most improved (+1.51), which allows it to surpass Cairo. 

For more information on CBISM 2017, please contact Vadim Volos at Vadim.Volos@gfk.com.

About the study

The Anholt-GfK CBISM is run once every two years and measures the image of 50 cities with respect to Presence, Place, Prerequisites, People, Pulse, and Potential. For the 2017 study, 5,057 interviews were conducted across 10 countries (Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, South Korea, UK, and USA), with at least 500 interviews per country. Adults aged 18 or over were interviewed online in each country. Using the most up-to-date online population parameters, the achieved sample in each country is weighted to reflect key demographic characteristics including age, gender, and education of the online population in that country. Fieldwork was conducted from 20 September to 3 October 2017.

The 50 cities ranked in the survey are as follows:

Western Europe: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Basel, Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, Edinburgh, Geneva, London, Madrid, Munich, Paris, Rome, Stockholm 

Central/Eastern Europe: Istanbul, Moscow, Prague, Vienna, Warsaw 

Asia Pacific: Auckland, Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Jakarta*, Melbourne, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo 

North America: Boston*, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco*, Toronto, Vancouver*, Washington D.C. 

Latin America: Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile* 

Middle East/Africa: Cairo, Cape Town, Doha, Dubai, Durban, Johannesburg

*Cities new to the CBISM 2017 are denoted with an asterisk.

About Simon Anholt 

Simon Anholt is recognized as the world’s leading authority on national image and identity. Professor Anholt was Vice-Chair of the UK Government’s Public Diplomacy Board, and works as an independent policy advisor to the Heads of State and Heads of Government of more than 50 other countries. Anholt developed the concept of the Nation Brands IndexSM and the City Brands IndexSM in 2005.

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About GfK

GfK connects data and science. Innovative research solutions provide answers for key business questions around consumers, markets, brands and media – now and in the future. As a research and analytics partner, GfK promises its clients all over the world “Growth from Knowledge”. For more information, please visit www.gfk.com or follow GfK on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GfK

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