The rankings, presented by brand evaluation consultancy Brand Finance, are the result of a comprehensive global survey conducted in April 2023. Nearly 15,000 members of the public from 20 countries across all continents participated in the survey, sharing their perceptions of the top 100 cities worldwide.
Cape Town's position as a prominent city in Africa stems from its position as the most frequented destination in South Africa, highly regarded and sought-after by travellers. The city's natural beauty comprising coastline, mountains, and diverse landscapes contributes to making it one of the world's most attractive tourist destinations.
The city boasts a wealth of cultural heritage, ranking 33rd for its diversity, multiculturalism, warm hospitality, and thrilling attractions. Furthermore, Cape Town secures the 15th spot for affordability and the 18th spot for pleasant weather, solidifying its appeal to tourists worldwide.
In order to provide a thorough evaluation of the city brands in the ranking, alongside measuring familiarity, the survey asked respondents about the overall reputation of each city and their personal opinions regarding living, local and remote work opportunities, studying, retiring, visiting, and investing in each location.
The evaluation of preferences across these seven dimensions was complemented by perceptions of 45 underlying attributes associated with city branding. These attributes were categorised into seven pillars, including business and investment and sustainability and transport.
Despite facing ongoing socioeconomic challenges, Cape Town has ranked positively for the attribute of future growth potential, ranking 18th globally. This is largely attributed to the city's thriving tourism industry, which not only presents opportunities for economic expansion but also facilitates job creation.
Additionally, Cape Town's strategic location as a major port and transportation hub within South Africa provides a gateway to trade and investment prospects, particularly with emerging markets across the African continent.
Below Cape Town and Egypt’s Cairo (67th), Johannesburg is ranked as the 72nd best city brand in the world and 3rd in Africa in the Brand Finance City Index. Experiencing higher crime rates compared to other areas in South Africa, Johannesburg is held back by a relatively low ranking for perceptions of crime levels (76th).
On the other hand, like Cape Town, Johannesburg also ranks highly for future growth potential, at 25th globally. Although not as popular as Cape Town among tourists, Johannesburg is widely recognised as the economic powerhouse of South Africa and a significant financial and business hub in Africa. The city has a robust economy, a large and skilled workforce, and many universities.
Johannesburg, securing the 72nd position in the Brand Finance City Index, stands as the third-best city brand in Africa, trailing Cape Town and Cairo (ranked 67th). Experiencing higher crime rates compared to other areas in South Africa, Johannesburg is held back by a relatively low ranking for perceptions of crime levels (76th). However, similar to Cape Town, Johannesburg excels in terms of future growth potential, attaining the 25th spot globally.
Jeremy Sampson, managing director of Brand Finance Africa, comments: "With its exceptional beauty and extraordinary diversity, South Africa is truly a remarkable nation that enjoys a lively reputation for tourism. South African cities must continue to focus on promoting their vibrant cultural scenes, sustainable urban development, and investment in infrastructure.
"Further, by prioritising safety, inclusivity, and social equality, South African cities can create welcoming environments that encourage tourism and promote more positive global perceptions in the coming years."
London has been crowned the world's best city brand, achieving a score of 84.6 out of 100 in the Brand Finance City Index. The city's high familiarity among respondents worldwide contributed to its strong brand perceptions, allowing it to excel in the ranking. London topped the study, leading in two key dimensions - study and visit - and ranking within the top four in all other dimensions. Known for its academic excellence and iconic landmarks, London is regarded as the best city to study and visit globally.
New York City secured the second spot in the ranking, with a score of 83.0 out of 100. It excelled as a global financial hub and was recognized as the second-best city to invest in. Additionally, New York City ranked second in three dimensions - invest, study, and visit - highlighting its appeal to investors, students, and tourists.
Paris claimed the third position in the ranking, earning a score of 79.7 out of 100. The city's strong familiarity and renowned attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, contributed to its high ranking. Paris excelled in the Culture & Heritage pillar, topping the list for beautiful architecture, great museums and galleries, and great theatres and music venues.