The World’s Best Urban Destinations in the Age of Covid

(CNN) — There are many ways to gauge a city’s success as a tourist destination beyond the number of visitors it receives.

There is infrastructure, sustainability and economy; how it meets the challenges of attracting and welcoming travelers while maintaining residents’ quality of life; and then there is the effectiveness of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

UK-based market research company Euromonitor was once known for its annual list of the top 100 city destinations, which until Covid changed everything in 2020 ranked top destinations by the number of visitors. international arrivals.

This has been replaced by its new Top 100 City Destination Index, which compares the attractiveness of 100 cities around the world using six performance pillars, with the latest report based on data collected in 2021.

In 2019, the top of the list was dominated by Asian destinations, with Hong Kong and Bangkok topping the list, but in 2021 Europe is now represented by eight cities in the top 10.

Like the pre-pandemic list, the 2021 index is a snapshot in time. Last year, cities found their feet in the wake of the global crisis, with some opening up to the world faster than others. Next year’s roster will no doubt be different again, in the rapidly changing landscape of the Covid recovery.

So here are the first tourist heroes of the pandemic era.

Paris dominates the world

Paris has been named the world’s most attractive destination city for 2021. Globally, it ranked first in the “tourism performance” pillar and second in “tourism policy and infrastructure”.

It has benefited from the return of American and Asian tourists, according to Euromonitor, although it has not yet been boosted by visitors from the United Kingdom, previously a big market. That has now changed, with the UK being added to France’s “green list” on March 31, 2022.

However, it performed poorly on health and safety, which the report said was “despite increased efforts to increase vaccination rates in a vaccine-hesitant population.”

France has been one of the worst-hit European countries in terms of Covid and at the start of this month it had nearly 27 million total cases.

the rise of dubai

Ranked #1 in the 2020 index, Dubai ranks second in Euromonitor’s 2021 list and is the only city from an emerging market to make the top 10.

The UAE favorite got a head start by reopening to international tourists in July 2020 and last year received a boost from the delayed Expo2020, which kicks off in October 2021.

Dubai ranked fourth in the world in the “health and safety” performance pillar, thanks to the strict Covid protocol introduced by the Government of Dubai.

As of April 2022, over 98% of Dubai’s population has been vaccinated and the use of face masks remains mandatory in indoor public spaces.

“Livable and inclusive”

EU residents can now freely enter Amsterdam, but restrictions apply for countries outside the zone.

Figure of Sergei/Adobe Stock

Amsterdam, a small city with a historically large tourist population, so much so that it has become the poster child for overtourism, ranks third for 2021.

Dutch capital now tackling overtourism with technology: Euromonitor praises its Public Eye crowd monitoring project, which uses artificial intelligence technology to help navigate large flows of people and reduce traffic jams.

The report also notes that Amsterdam, along with Barcelona and Oslo, have “taken steps to reduce parking spaces” as well as introducing “extensive cycling infrastructure to revolutionize its transport networks and create a more livable and inclusive place”. .

Population growth, improving unemployment rates and rising disposable incomes have earned it strong economic and business performance, according to Euromonitor, ranking sixth in this performance pillar globally.

Long live Spain

Madrid is fourth in the overall ranking and number 1 in the world in the “sustainability” performance pillar. It was also ranked third in the world in “tourism policy and attractiveness”.

Thanks to Spain’s easing of entry requirements in several markets, Barcelona also moved up six places to 10th place in 2021.

New York was the highest ranked US city, ranking 7th overall. Its success was fueled by domestic tourism, while Orlando (#22) and Las Vegas (#28) also improved their rankings.

Singapore ranked first in the world in the “economic and trade performance” pillar, although the city-state only came in at 24th in the overall index.

Asian cities stood out in this pillar, with Taipei and Hong Kong also leading in 2021 in terms of economic recovery, and Macau jumping 18 places to seventh in the world.

The British capital plummeted in the rankings in 2021.

The British capital plummeted in the rankings in 2021.

Figure of Sergei/Adobe Stock

Euromonitor also noted the impact of Singapore’s high vaccination levels and “living with Covid” policy, unlike the “Zero Covid” approach of other Asia-Pacific destinations.

Dublin ranks first for tourism policy and attractiveness, and ranks 16th in the overall index.

Euromonitor attributes this to the fact that the Irish capital, like France, was open to American travelers from mid-2021, unlike its British neighbors. London fell three places overall in 2021, to 8th.

However, London has gained in tourist infrastructure. The report highlights the capital’s comprehensive public transport system, its six commercial airports, and notes that it “holds a strong position in culture and leisure, as well as educational offerings”.

Euromonitor index of the 20 best destination cities 2021


2. Dubai

3. Amsterdam


5. Rome

6. Berlin

7. New York

8. London



11. Vienna


13. Prague

14. Los Angeles



17. Lisbon

18. Frankfurt am Main

19. Zurich

20. Istanbul

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