The image of the United Kingdom overseas has improved significantly over the last year, driven by greater perceptions of British culture, its people and its appeal as a tourist destination.
The findings have been published in the latest Anholt-GFK Roper Nation Brands Index (NBI) and come ahead of a crucial year for the destination.
Both the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations will boost tourism figures in the UK next year.
Notable improvements across a number of key indicators means that the UK now overtakes France on the overall rankings to become the third most admired country globally, and positioning itself as one of the strongest and most well-rounded nations in the world.
The results reveal that the UK – now one place higher than it was in 2010 - is also one of the few countries to feature in the top six slots within each of the six brand measurements that the NBI analyses annually.
Britain’s enhanced standing on the world stage has been buoyed by respondents’ views on it as a tourist destination, particularly because of the appeal of its rich historic landmarks and vibrant city life.
It has also improved its aspirational appeal for overseas markets with visitors more likely to make the journey to the UK if money was no object.
Along with these gains, the UK has also enjoyed success for the third consecutive year in being seen as an interesting and exciting place for contemporary culture, jumping up two spots to fourth place with music, films, art, literature and sports all areas strongly associated with the British.
Welcoming the latest findings, chief executive of VisitBritain Sandie Dawe said: “This year’s NBI report provides yet another insightful score-card for the UK.
“It shows that the overwhelming perception of Britain by overseas visitors is positive and that our image is improving significantly in many of the countries in which we operate around the world.
“Particularly encouraging is the news that China and India - two vital markets offering long-term growth potential for inbound tourism - rank the UK very highly as an aspirational destination.
“It is our ambition to attract an additional four million overseas visitors over the next four years, and that will mean turning these positive perceptions into new arrivals.
“All this underpins how important it is for VisitBritain to increase our efforts over the coming year if we are to continue to climb up the world rankings and make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.”
While the NBI report has given a much needed boost to the UK as it approaches a critical year for tourism, it has also highlighted areas for improvement if it is to remain one of the most desired destinations.
Responses among the survey panel about Britain’s natural beauty (an unchanged ranking of 22nd) dragged down the Tourism Index score and suggests more could be done to help educate visitors about the diversity of Britain’s rich landscape.
Despite progress being seen in the perceived welcome by Brits (ranked 12th, up one slot from 2010), questions still remain on how warm that welcome is and what can be done to improve the UK’s overall friendliness.
Brits themselves held their own country in high esteem, positioning itself as number one across all but one of the indices.