Countries with the best reputations: FutureBrand Country Index 2019 results

Japan remains the country with the world's best reputation, according to new research, while the popularity of the Australia has taken a nosedive.

The FutureBrand Country Index published for the first time since 2014 charts the global perception of 75 different countries, ranking them according to a nation's "brand" power. A country's "purpose" and "experience" are among a number of factors taken into account, as well as tourism potential, heritage and culture and quality of life. 

Japan held on to top spot, while Norway climbed four places to second with Switzerland slipping from second to third. Scandinavian nations Sweden and Finland completed the top five. 

Meanwhile, both Australia and the UK slipped seven places to 15th and 19th respectively, and the US dropped five places to 12th.

Perceptions of quality of life in Australia dropped the most, falling nine points since 2014. The report cited the high cost of living, falling disposable incomes, lack of affordable housing and rising homelessness as potential reasons for the drop.

For the US and UK, the research highlighted their descents as the products of increasingly divisive politics. 

"They are among the most advanced, democratic and diverse countries in the world, but when it comes to brand strength and attractiveness to visitors and investors alike, their popularity continues to take a nosedive," the report read.

The 20 countries with the best reputations

  1. Japan -
  2. Norway +4
  3. Switzerland -1
  4. Sweden -
  5. Finland +8
  6. Germany -3
  7. Denmark +2
  8. Canada -3
  9. Austria +1
  10. Luxembourg -
  11. New Zealand -
  12. United States -5
  13. Netherlands +3
  14. Italy +4
  15. Australia -7
  16. UAE +3
  17. France -
  18. Singapore -4
  19. United Kingdom -7
  20. South Korea -

"For the US, dominated in the global consciousness by its current figurehead, President Donald Trump, a number of key attributes have all fallen (albeit by relatively small margins). During the same period, the UK has suffered pretty much across the board, with only slight increases in a handful of categories, and an abysmal rating for Value for Money."

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FutureBrand added that both the US and UK are seen as increasingly intolerant.

It is interesting that the top two nations, Japan and Norway, both come under regular criticism for their whaling industries, but still manage to maintain a good reputation. 

Who were the winners?

Though Scandinavia dominated the top five, numerous European countries made it into the top 20. Germany, Denmark, Austria and Luxembourg made up the top 10, with the addition of Canada, while the Netherlands, Italy and France all ranked above the UK.

Japan was praised for its "ever-solid identity and reputation among would-be tourists, visitors, students, residents, consumers and investors". "Japan's rich culture, which encompasses a favourable quality of life, natural beauty, and heritage beckons visitors from around the globe," the report said.

The country has seen its visitor numbers soar in recent years, from 6.2m in 2011 to 28.7m in 2017. It is likely growth will continue as it prepares to host the Rugby World Cup this autumn and the Olympics next year. 

Away from the top 10, the five countries to record the greatest rises were praised for "the tough work of changing peoples' impressions".

Slovakia rose 24 places to 35th, Romania 20 to 42th and Hungary 18 to 38th. Turkey and Peru were also in the ascendancy. 

The research pointed to heritage and culture as important factors in all five nations, noting the rise of Eastern European countries stepping out of the shadow of more traditionally popular Western European destinations.

New Zealand, regularly voted the best country in the world by travellers, was a non-mover in 11th.

The United Arab Emirates will be pleased with its ranking, climbing three places to 16th, after vast reputational investments in European football clubs, such as Arsenal and Manchester City. Neighbouring Qatar fell two places to 26th. 

Saudi Arabia, despite coming under close scrutiny for its human rights record, rose nine places to 30th. 

And the losers?

At the foot of the table were those countries most affected by war and instability, with Iraq in 75th, Ukraine 74th and Pakistan 73rd. Pakistan is perhaps surprising as a non-mover, with the country increasingly seen as a possible holiday destination; British Airways resumed flights to the capital Islamabad this year. 

The 10 countries with the worst reputations

  1. Iraq
  2. Ukraine
  3. Pakistan
  4. Iran
  5. Bangladesh
  6. Dominican Republic
  7. Angola
  8. Nigeria
  9. Philippines
  10. Morocco

Morocco's placing is evidence that tourism potential does not immediately correlate with a good reputation, with the African nation having seen a rise in popularity among holidaymakers in recent years.

Vietnam, too, in 61st, has seen its arrivals swell, as has Indonesia in 56th, though the nation which counts Bali among its main draws rose 10 places. 

The Telegraph, London

See also: Twenty things that will surprise first-time visitors to Japan

See also: Tourists abandon one of the world's worst countries for overtourism

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