(CNN) — There are many ways to judge a city’s success as a tourist destination other than the number of visitors it receives.
There is infrastructure, sustainability and economy; how it copes with the challenges of attracting and accommodating travelers while maintaining the quality of life of residents; and then there is the effectiveness of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
British research firm Euromonitor used to be best known for its annual Top 100 Cities list, which – until Covid turned everything upside down in 2020 – featured top destinations in terms of international arrivals.
Like the pre-pandemic list, the 2021 index is a snapshot in time. Last year cities got back on their feet after the global crisis, and some of them opened up to the world faster than others. Next year’s list will no doubt be different again in the rapidly changing Covid recovery situation.
So, here are the first heroes of pandemic era tourism.
Paris leads the world
Paris has been named the most attractive city in the world for 2021. Globally, it ranked first in the “tourism outcomes” column and second in “tourism policy and infrastructure”.
However, it received a low score in terms of health and safety, which the report said was “despite increased efforts to increase vaccination rates among vaccine-doubting populations.”
France has been one of the hardest hit European countries in terms of Covid, with around 27 million cases in total as of the beginning of this month.
Dubai, ranked #1 in the 2020 index, is #2 on the Euromonitor 2021 list and is the only emerging market city to feature in the top 10.
The UAE favorite got a head start by reopening to international tourists in July 2020, and last year it got a boost from the postponed Expo2020, which kicked off in October 2021.
Dubai has been ranked fourth in the world in terms of “health and safety” thanks to the strict Covid protocol put in place by the government of Dubai.
“Sustainable and Inclusive”
EU residents are now allowed free entry to Amsterdam, but there are restrictions for countries outside the zone.
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The Dutch capital is now fighting overtourism with technology: Euromonitor is praising its Public Eye crowd monitoring project, which uses artificial intelligence technology to help navigate large crowds and reduce congestion.
The report also notes that Amsterdam, along with Barcelona and Oslo, “has taken action to reduce parking spaces” and has also implemented “an extensive cycling infrastructure to revolutionize its transport networks and create a more livable and inclusive place.”
Population growth, falling unemployment and rising disposable income meant the country performed well in terms of economic and business performance, ranking sixth globally, according to Euromonitor.
Madrid ranks fourth overall and first in the world in terms of sustainability. It also ranked third in the world for “tourist policy and attractiveness”.
With Spain easing entry requirements for several markets, Barcelona have also moved up six places in the rankings to 10th in 2021.
New York was the highest-ranked city in the United States, finishing 7th overall. Its success was driven by domestic tourism, while Orlando (No. 22) and Las Vegas (No. 28) also improved their rankings.
Singapore ranked first in the world in terms of “economic and business performance”, although the city-state ranked only 24th in the overall index.
Asian cities stood out in this pillar, with Taipei and Hong Kong also leading the way in 2021 in terms of economic recovery, while Macau climbed 18 places to rank seventh in the world.
The UK capital has dropped in the rankings in 2021.
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Euromonitor also pointed to the impact of Singapore’s high vaccination rates and “living with Covid” policies, as opposed to the “Zero Covid” approach elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
Dublin ranked first in tourism policy and attractiveness and ranked 16th in the overall index.
Euromonitor explains this by saying that the Irish capital, like France, has been open to US travelers since mid-2021, unlike their UK neighbors. London has dropped three places in the overall rankings in 2021, dropping to 8th.
However, London won in tourist infrastructure. The report points to the capital’s extensive public transport system, six commercial airports, and notes that “it has a strong reputation for culture and recreation as well as educational offerings.”
Euromonitor Top 20 Cities Index 2021
7. New York
14. Los Angeles
18. Frankfurt am Maime