Australia’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has been the envy of residents in countries around the globe.
But its successful handling of the pandemic is only the latest in a long line of reasons why Australian cities continue to be ranked among the world’s best.
In the latest World’s Best Cities Report, released in late October, the world’s best cities with populations of more than a million were graded on the six key metrics of place, product, programming, people, prosperity and promotion.
Place refers to the perceived quality of a city’s natural and built environment, incorporating factors such as safety, weather and neighbourhoods. Product defines the city’s “hardware” such as its main attractions and airport connectivity while infrastructure programming is about entertainment, arts and the contender’s culinary scene.
The people category celebrates a city’s diversity. The report’s prosperity category relates to how economically secure its citizens are as well as the standard of living and employment, while programming refers to what the report terms the “software” such as cultural programming and lifestyle experiences that helps the best cities run.
The promotion category is defined by the number of stories and recommendations that are shared online about the city.
For the sixth year in a row, London took the top spot, followed by New York, Paris and Tokyo. Dubai, Singapore, Barcelona, Los Angeles and Madrid rounded out the top ten.
In Australia, the top ranked city was Sydney (ranked 25th), followed by Melbourne (37th) and Brisbane (70th). Adelaide placed 75th on the list and Perth rounded out the Australian list, coming in at 89th.
The report noted that if Sydney wasn’t so geographically isolated, there is a good chance it could challenge Paris and London for post-COVID-19 visitor number supremacy.
“It’s the laid-back, safe and sunny manifestation of the good life. Let’s use new residents as a benchmark: according to local numbers, Sydney has been gaining more than 80,000 annually, ranking #16 in our People category. The city’s staggering growth is indicative of the pull of the golden beaches, the big-city harbour and the mellow, generous, welcoming citizens who call this spectacular location home.
“The city is gifted with perfect integration of the natural and built, and accessible by all manner of ferries and watercraft, from which new angles on icons like the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge are revealed.”
While Sydney is known for its laidback vibe and breezy style, Melbourne’s strength lay in its “edgy aesthetics and urban panache”, the report noted.
“In the art capital of Australia, you can while away the morning at Gertrude Contemporary, a gallery that showcases the work of emerging homegrown artists, or you can lose yourself in the happening Fitzroy neighbourhood, where the city’s street-art scene began in the aforementioned alleys. Melbourne ranks #23 for sights and landmarks and #27 for culture. Its diversity is a major strength, ranking #10 for foreign-born residents, and a better educated populace helped its people score rise four spots.”
The report described Brisbane as “sunny, sophisticated and offering plenty of outdoor adventures right within the city limits”.
“Named after the river that runs through it, Brisbane is best explored from the water. At night. And on a kayak, too: we recommend you take in the shimmering lights of the cityscape during a leisurely paddle down the river. Culture vultures can soak up the art at the Queensland Art Gallery and at the Gallery of Modern Art, Australia’s largest gallery of modern and contemporary art. Brisbane ranks #35 for attractions and #66 for parks and outdoors.”
The judges described Adelaide as being alive with the “energy” of a diverse population and a dynamic music scene. “Adelaide (literally) sings,” it claimed.
Meanwhile, Perth was praised for its Indigenous experiences, art installations and digital storytelling. “Perthites of every provenance are avid outdoors people, and the city’s #88 ranking for parks and outdoors will improve as more people discover the city’s investment in accessing all of that natural bounty, including the 50 miles of beachfront on Perth’s coastline.”
The report’s authors said the data collected for this year’s rankings provides a snapshot of the performance of these cities leading into the pandemic.
“A year from now, we’ll be able to look at how COVID-19 has affected each of these cities and see which ones prove to be the most resilient during this crisis.”