Not much has changed since the last time I reported on the Liveability report from The Economist Intelligence Unit in 2007. Vancouver is still the best place to live overall according to the 2009 ranking:
- Vancouver, Canada
- Vienna, Austria
- Melbourne, Australia
- Toronto, Canada
- Perth, Australia
- Calgary, Canada
- Helsinki, Finland
- Geneva, Switzerland
- Sydney, Australia
- Zurich, Switzerland
I’m finding the Mercer’s 2009 Quality of Living survey much more useful as it provides a special ranking for hubs with the best infrastructure. Note that Mercer’ survey is meant to be used as a comparison tool to determine compensation packages for companies with personnel abroad. Yet, as usual, it is fun to make a list of the cities where you would want to live next, right?
Here are the Top 5 cities in each region, according to the Mercer survey:
||Middle East & Africa
As part of The Universe in ‘09, SEED Magazine includes a number of self-explanatory visualizations. One that got my attention is called “Connecting Distant Dots” which represents a number of global processes and the way they reinforce or inhibit each other. Right at the center of the chart: Population Growth.
Interestingly enough, “Rethinking Urban Growth” is one of the few processes that acts as positive influencer in a world that seems doomed to end in food riots, although I find it hard to believe that this represents the full picture. At the very least there is one very important process missing from this picture: immigration.
Although only for the US, here is the Immigration Explorer, an interactive graphic of how different foreign-born groups have settled in the US over the last century.
The World Economic Forum announced its Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2009 will be released on March 4. A couple of weeks ago I was asking people where to find better data that could be used to identify emerging destinations and based on the 2008 version of the report, this may be the best source.
The report provides details on a number of factors that combined make it attractive to develop the Travel & Tourism sector. These factors are:
- Policy rules and regulations
- Environemental sustainability
- Safety and security
- Health and hygiene
- Prioritization of Travel & Tourism
- Air transport infrastructure
- Ground transport infrastructure
- Tourism infrastructure
- ICT infrastructure
- Price competitiveness in the Travel & Tourism industry
- Human resources
- Affinity for Travel & Tourism
- Natural resources
- Cultural resources
In 2008, through the methodic evaluation of these factors, countries like Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Australia & Spain were at the top of the rank. However, with the abundance of details provided by this report the one thing that comes to mind as an important deficiency is the fact that only country level data is provided. Well, for a report of this scope is absolutely necessary to maintain this general approach. But I’m certain that the more granular this information is provided, the more valuable it will become. Within countries, specific regions may be investing far more resources to get ahead of the game. Identifying the qualities that these regions have to compete and using such information to publish a regional version of the report may be the first step in creating new tourism trends.
After my post on the emerging destinations index, I got some really good feedback about how misleading calling them “emerging destinations” was. As I replied in the original comment thread it was mostly a derivative from the original “emerging markets” index which is where I got the data from. It just happens that some emerging markets have been top tourist destinations for a long time. So it’s likely a good idea to amend the unfortunate name as I plan to continue tweaking the index until it ranks real emerging destinations.
The idea is to come up with a certain way to organize information about destinations in such a way that those that have good infrastructure but have not yet developed as top tier tourist destinations can be identified. As it is, the index has yet to factor a number of things:
- It must account for current inbound tourism. This must be an inverse correlation as we would want those regions with fewer tourists to bubble up in the rank. I found an old table with the World’s Top Tourism Destinations, which will do for now, but it will work much better the more granular data I can get. Most of these stats are only available per country.
- As I’m planning to use this index to drive a different type of travel, tourism infrastructure is not a must, but there are some key elements that must be satisfied such as availability of quality lodging and a healthy network of suppliers to cater to those visiting. I think some of the dimensions already included in the index are accounting for general infrastructure, but it would be great to get more specific data.
- If I seem obsessed with collecting city rankings is because I believe cities matter. While large cosmopolitan cities act as a bridge to the rest of the world by spreading global culture, smaller cities in the surrounding areas may have a very different attitude yet be excellent destinations for certain types of activities. This means that all the data needs to be very granular.
There are “softer” elements that will have to be added to the index down the road, but I’m not sure how to account for them yet. To understand these I have to refer back to my post a village… once upon a time
I’m thinking “slow-urban”, a slum of hope attracting urbanites, an inexpensive property characterized by the lack of urban infrastructure but rich on more important aspects of life. The antithesis of our suburbs.
Being the antithesis of a suburb implies a certain buzz that is common in “happening” city neighbourhoods; a sense of locality which eliminates the need for unnecessary commutes for daily chores; an interesting community that seeks to grow by tapping on the resources of each individual. All this while providing a safe distance to the always busy urban pace and its obsession with hyper-productivity. For these characteristics I have yet to find a good metric.
According to comScore, Global Internet Audience has surpassed 1 billion visitors. While on technology forums the news was barely covered, let alone analyzed, and publications like The Economist didn’t offer further intel, I think the implications deserve more discussion.
In brief, comScore reports China contributed 179,710 unique visitors in December 2008, while the United States (the traditional leader) only 163,300. For China this represents barely 13% of their population while for the U.S. is around 55%. Using Gapminder we can compare the Internet penetration vs. Income to visualize the trend (even though only 2006 data is available):
Over two years ago I wrote the post déjà vu, forecasting that the total penetration of Chinese users would reach 35%, using a simple comparison with the adoption of a similar technology back in the 90’s: the telephone. Considering that there are similarities in the way the two technologies are deployed, it is reasonable to use the comparison. In the case of the telephone it took China about 8 years to reach that milestone. The baseline I had used for this comparison was 2004 so we still have a few more years to go, but imagine half a billion Chinese users (35% of their population) on the web! That is more users than the next 12 countries combined today.
As we get closer to this milestone, I think the following trends will be observed:
- Larger amounts of user generated content will originate from Chinese users, shifting the conversation to the East and carrying with it all the services associated with it. Forget China being a “resource” economy.
- Web sites will sacrifice features for the sake of simplicity in order to embrace such a large user base (think Twitter).
- We’ll see the surge of web sites ideated with the Chinese culture at heart. The rest of the world will be left out unless we make a serious effort to understand our cultural differences. Baidu is just the beginning.
- Demystification of China as a destination will accelerate its relevance as a tourist destination. Put Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Chengdu, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Tianjin and Wuhan in your places to visit within the next 10 years. We’ll hear a lot more about them.
Using the Emerging Markets Index released by Mastercard back in October, I’ve created something I’m going to call the Emerging Destination Index as a tool to provide clues as to which non-traditional tourist destinations may provide the fundamental infrastructure to sustain the type of travellers that I’ve been discussing over the last little while in this blog.
The original index data is available from Mastercard, and all I did was to reconfigure the weights assigned by the original methodology to assign more value to those dimensions that have a higher impact on the ability of a traveller to operate remotely from the region with fair access to a urban standard of living. These are the weights I assigned:
- Economic and Commercial Environment (0%) – Used in the original index to measure time and costs for building a standard warehouse, registering a property, exporting/importing cargo, and rate corruption and foreign bond, it seemed mostly irrelevant for the purpose of this index, so I left it out.
- Economic Growth and Development (10%) – Measuring the broad economic health and growth of the national economy this dimension seems to be the best way of describing the level of infrastructure that will ultimately support most activities from those visiting. It will also likely be related to the level scope of urban areas and the availability of important infrastructure outside of the major cities.
- Business Environment (7%) - Reflects the ability to setup a business. After all in order for travellers to gain access to the region, business must prosper along with all their suppliers, just so the visitors can enjoy their stay with a guarantee of fundamental services.
- Financial Services Environment (6%) – The availability of financial services to sustain the traveller during the stay.
- Commercial Connectivity (16%) – While I made the point that no place on Earth is remote anymore, this dimension measures city connectivity to other world and regional commercial centers by air, airline passenger volumes, presence of foreign consulates/embassies, international hotels, convention/meeting facilities, and international trade.
- Education, and IT Connectivity Environment (12%) – The availability of basic IT infrastructure may be key for those trying to maintain their links to work life active while on the region.
- Quality of Urban Life (28%) – Measures the quality of life by considering: personal freedom/media and censorship, medical and health considerations, public services and transport, recreation and culture, mortality, and the presence of world heritage sites. For someone looking to make a trip to a region for a few weeks, this dimension alone provides the most important aspect of the index on whether the visit will be full of memorable experiences.
- Risk & Security (21%) – Gauges a city’s overall risk and security through personal freedom, personal physical safety and the political and social environment. A concern in most emerging regions continues to be personal security and while a destination may be inviting, venturing outside of the usual tourist destinations will require the region to provide a basic safety guarantee.
Here are the top 10 destinations according to this index:
- Buenos Aires
- Kuala Lumpur
- Sao Paulo
- Mexico City
I’ll be happy to share the full list of 65 with anyone that is interested.
As we struggle to find ways to survive the current crisis and look at the leaders of the world to provide guidance, the latest Hub Culture 2009 Zeitgeist Ranking will come in handy as a tour of the cities that are better positioned to sustain an acceptable quality of life while providing plenty of opportunities to rebuild for the future. A zeitgeist reflecting the drama of our times:
its not really about the Obamas – its about the context of our changing expectations of government
Berliners become an enigma – povo at home, increasingly affluent abroad
Just ignore the noxious skyline as you watch the GDP growth rates, still hovering near 9%
- Los Angeles
LA’s fashion scene has stagnated, and the city’s hold on entertainment is slipping to diffusion by web 2.0
the principles of kaizen (continuous improvement) are shaping a really cool new Japanese ecovibe
The general attitude down under appears to be one of distant concern
- Saö Paulo
Here, ‘crunch’ is in the quinoa, not in the financial vocabulary
- Hong Kong
The city is rich enough to sit out the bust, and it can always rely on China’s neighboring Guangdong province to drive the local economy
- New York
Hunger breeds innovation, because people actually have to think, plot and scheme to make a difference, and are more likely to do it on a shoestring budget.
With large infrastructure projects on the horizon for the Olympics, nimble currency moves and a general stiff upper lip, the mantra now is survival and sobriety
China is one of the last places in the world still experiencing growth, and that means that the party is still in progress here on the Huangphu River
Clearly the November attacks had a large impact on the mood of the city, but they can’t dent the can-do spirit of average Mumbaikars
Private wealth and trading (two of the city’s biggest focuses) are giving ground to medical tourism, biotech and other homegrown industries taking root with support from the government
- Buenos Aires
international markets and visitors that provide an international feel to the city began to dry up
Dubai’s taste for showcases, whether luxury, architecture or design, make the remaining grand opportunities here very interesting
The current mood is about refocusing on priorities, living life more simply and thinking deep thoughts. Where better than Paris?
Canadian globe trotters are heading back home to Canada’s most influential business city as they check out of their stints abroad.
Looking ahead, the story of Istanbul is about youthful opportunity.
- México, D.F.
a young population works in Mexico City’s favour, creating optimism and opportunity for the future, generated by an increasingly well educated and global population.
the Danish way of life, from design to food, with a focus on streamlined simplicity, makes more sense than ever.