The Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies, a research body established by Mori Building, Tokyo’s leading urban developer, announced today its Global Power City Index (GPCI) 2022 report on the overall strength of the world’s 48 major cities, with a special focus on how cities have responded to the COVID-19 era. In addition to the top five cities—London, New York, Tokyo, Paris and Singapore, in that order—other notable cities included Melbourne (#9), which was ranked in the top 10 for the first time, and Dubai (#11), which has made great strides in enhancing its cultural interaction.
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GPCI 2022 rankings were significantly impacted by how cities have responded to the three-year COVID-19 pandemic. Regarding Accessibility, cities are particularly divided in terms of how fast they have resumed accepting international flights. While cities such as London, Singapore and Tokyo have seen their scores affected by their limitations on international air traffic and cautious border measures, Dubai and Istanbul have raised their scores by resuming tourism air traffic.
Other locations managed to increase their scores by improving local living conditions. Melbourne and Paris, for example, scored higher in Livability compared to last year, and New York added points by recovering its domestic transportation network quickly and enhancing its working environment.
The Institute also announced today the results of its City Perception Survey (CPS) 2022, which polled some 9,600 residents in the 48 cities to determine how the international community perceives the top cities in the GPCI rankings.
Highlights (Cities Ranked #1–5)
(Note: Numbers marked with # indicate a city’s overall ranking and without # indicate a ranking in one of the functions or indicators.)
London (#1):World's most cosmopolitan city saw its power weaken due to cautious COVID-19 measures
London maintained its top position in the comprehensive ranking but its scores contracted significantly in Cultural Interaction (1st) and Accessibility (6th). In “Number of Foreign Visitors” under Cultural Interaction, London’s formerly top position was overtaken by Istanbul (#32), Dubai (#11), and Paris (#4), in that order, which are cities that quickly reopened to international tourism. London’s Economy score (2nd) has continued to drop since GPCI 2019, this time particularly in “GDP Growth Rate” and “Employees in Business Support Services.” Although scores such as “Number of Foreign Visitors” will hopefully recover as COVID-19 weakens its grip, London’s economy also has continued to decline under Brexit. It remains to be seen if the city has the power to hold on to #1.
New York (#2): Close on London’s heels with resumed domestic transport and stronger working environment
New York remained in second but drew significantly closer to London (#1). Economy (1st) and R&D (1st) have been hallmarks of New York’s high rankings for the past several years, but this time its Accessibility ranking (4th) edged out other powerhouses such as London (#1) and Tokyo (#3) as domestic flights quickly recovered from the damaging impact of COVID-19. Attention will now focus on how New York addresses its two weaknesses, Livability (38th) and Environment (27th). In Working Environment, the city rebounded from the pandemic in areas such as “Workstyle Flexibility” and “Total Unemployment Rate.” Conversely, Environment indicators such as “Air Quality” and “Satisfaction with Urban Cleanliness” declined significantly.
Tokyo (#3): Scores restrained by cautious policies for living with COVID-19
Tokyo held on to third place overall but its score dropped sharply from last year to place just ahead of Paris (#4). Declines were seen in four of the GPCI’s six functions: Economy (5th), Cultural Interaction (5th), Livability (11th) and Accessibility (10th). Tokyo’s Cultural Interaction score rose in the lead up to the 2020 Olympic Games, but the pandemic suppressed the city in “Number of Foreign Visitors” and other areas. On the other hand, Tokyo remained strong in “Attractiveness of Shopping Options,” “Attractiveness of Dining Options” and other tourism assets. Environment (13th) was the only function in which Tokyo rose thanks to a jump in “Commitment to Climate Action.” Tokyo hopes to reinvigorate its urban capacity as the COVID-19 situation begins to calm down and indicators such as “Number of Foreign Visitors” recover, coupled with multiple redevelopment projects currently under promotion.
Paris (#4): Solid comprehensive score expected to grow further thanks to 2024 Olympic Games
Paris ranked 4th in its comprehensive ranking, just behind Tokyo (#3). Although Paris, like London (#1), lost many points in Cultural Interaction (3rd), it was strong in Livability (1st) due to higher scores in “Housing Rent” and “Total Working Hours per Capita.” While international flights to/from Paris have remained low amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the city recovered more quickly than others to improve its ranking in “Number of Air Passengers.” The big question is how hosting the 2024 Olympic Games will impact Paris, particularly whether it will serve as a tailwind to push further urban improvements as well as boost Cultural Interaction, which sagged in 2022.
Singapore (#5): Fewer tourists and weakening tourism resources cast a shadow over growth prospects
Singapore ranked #5 overall, but like London (#1) it was hurt by a decline in international flights due to COVID-19 countermeasures so its scores in Cultural Interaction (11th) and Accessibility (11th) dropped markedly, leaving the city just ahead of Amsterdam (#6). Nevertheless, Singapore moved up in Economy to 6th based on rising scores in “Wage Level” and “GDP Growth Rate.” In Livability (25th), “Housing Rent,” which had been weak, also improved. Singapore's score in Cultural Interaction has continued to decline since 2019, due not only to shrinking tourism but also declining ratings for tourism resources such as “Tourist Attractions” and “Nightlife Options,” so the city will need to address such issues going forward.
Selected other noteworthy cities
Seoul (#7): Replaces Berlin (#8) in 7th place and looks to rise higher through cultural interaction
Seoul suffered like other cities from a decline in “Number of Foreign Visitors,” but at the same time the city greatly improved its rating in the “Nightlife Options” indicator, presumably due to the recent popularity of Korean TV dramas that have made the city’s nightlife spots more famous. Looking ahead, Seoul expects to see the evaluation of its Cultural Interaction (15th) improve further. Seoul’s “Economic Freedom” indicator also rose significantly to lift the city’s Economy ranking (14th).
Melbourne (#9),Vienna (#15), Helsinki (#28): Tourism down but better residential conditions boost rankings
While these three cities, like others, saw their scores in “Number of Foreign Visitors” drop or remain low, they performed favorably in the indicators which are considered to be important by local residents. In particular, Melbourne entered the top 10 ahead of Sydney, thanks to higher scores in indicators such as “Total Working Hours per Capita” and “Workstyle Flexibility” in Livability and “Air Quality” and “Comfort Level of Temperature” in Environment.
Shanghai (#10): Newly introduced waste recycling improves Environment ranking and overall standing
Shanghai remained in 10th place, unchanged from last year, but the city topped the “GDP Growth Rate” index in the Economy (10th) category. In addition, Shanghai improved its “Waste Recycle Rate” ranking under Environment (34th), most likely the result of newly enacted policies.
Dubai (#11): Cultural attractions were greatly enhanced by hosting world expo
Dubai is notable for the fact that its hosting a world expo in 2021–2022 helped to boost foreign visitors to the city, giving it significant advantages in “Number of Foreign Visitors” and “Cities with Direct International Flights.” The city's cultural attractiveness also strengthened, as evidenced by its improved rankings in indicators such as “Attractiveness of Shopping Options” and “Attractiveness of Dining Options.”
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