The most welcoming cities in the world, from Singapore to Stockholm

A new list ranks cities by their openness to tourists

Helen Coffey
Monday 06 November 2017 14:01 GMT
SIngapore deemed world's friendliest city
SIngapore deemed world's friendliest city (Getty Images)

A new list ranks Singapore as the most welcoming city in the world.

Compiled by holiday website Travelbird, the rankings were determined by scoring the world’s 500 biggest cities for tourism on a range of factors, from how welcoming the port of entry is to the happiness of residents, from safety and security to the city’s openness to host tourists and general English language proficiency.

Travelbird combined this with data garnered from polling more than 15,000 travel journalists on their experiences, before weighting all of these factors against a formula that measures overtourism in each destination to compile a list of the top 100 most welcoming cities.

The latter was important because, according to Travelbird, “If a city is over its tourism carrying capacity, then issues such as overcrowding, lengthy queues and rising living costs occur, which all negatively impact local residents and therefore affect how welcoming they are to tourists.”

The rankings quantified overtourism by calculating the tourism capacity of each city. This was worked out by comparing the following factors: number of residents as compared to the number of tourists during the peak season, and licensed number of hotel beds in addition to the number of peer-to-peer rental beds per square km. Travelbird then conducted a poll asking local residents how tourism had positively or negatively impacted on their daily lives, and used this data to contribute to the total overtourism score.

Singapore scored particularly highly for its welcoming port of entry, achieving a perfect 10 in this category. The country is known for its cleanliness (chewing gum is banned), multi-cultural charm and the prevalence of English signs, making it easy to navigate as a tourist.

Scandinavian cities fared well when it comes to welcoming, with Stockholm, Helsinki and Oslo all making it into the top 10.

London was deemed the friendliest UK city, slipping into 29th place, closely followed by Glasgow (31) and Edinburgh (33). London scored particularly well for English proficiency (unsurprisingly) and an openness to host tourists.

“We devised this study as the first step towards a more sustainable future,” says Travelbird CEO Steven Klooster. “It’s a call-to-action to ourselves and to fellow tour operators, to residents and local governments in those places that are worst affected by overtourism, to work together to find solutions to this problem.

“We believe tourism can have a positive impact on local destinations; with a clear understanding of the issues at hand, innovative thinking and commonsense legislation, we can preserve and protect them for the future.”

10 most welcoming cities

Singapore, Singapore – 8.22

Stockholm, Sweden – 8.02

Helsinki, Finland – 8.01

San Francisco, USA – 8.0

Rotterdam, Netherlands – 7.98

Lisbon, Portugal – 7.9

Tokyo, Japan – 7.89

Oslo, Norway – 7.88

Zurich, Switzerland – 7.84

Orlando, USA – 7.81

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