Australia is top country brand

Australia has earned the coveted spot as the world’s top country brand for the third consecutive year, according to the 2008 Country Brand Index (CBI) which will be officially released Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008 at London’s World Travel Market.Rising from its sixth place ranking last year, Canada is recognized second and the United States rounds out the top three country brands in the 2008 study. Other countries making the top 10 include Italy, Switzerland and France. The CBI examines how countries are branded and ranked according to key criteria, and identifies emerging global trends in the world’s fastest growing economic sector - travel and tourism, which accounts for US$5.9 trillion of economic activity worldwide this year and more than 238 million jobs. The study also revealed that the Middle East, Africa and Asia are experiencing high growth for travel and tourism demand.

2008 CBI Top Country Brands
1. Australia
2. Canada
3. United States
4. Italy
5. Switzerland
6. France
7. New Zealand
8. United Kingdom
9. Japan
10. Sweden

FutureBrand has developed a three-tiered evaluation system for ranking country brands. This Index incorporates global quantitative research, expert opinions, and references relevant statistics that link brand equity to assets, growth and expansion.

Almost 2,700 respondents from nine countries including the US, UK, China, Australia, Japan, Brazil, UAE, Germany and Russia participated in a travel survey. Participants were screened to include international travelers (who travel internationally more than once a year) between the ages of 21 and 65, with a balanced split between men and women. Business and leisure travelers were both included. Respondents answered questions about behavior around destination selection; country associations with particular attributes; and overall awareness/familiarity, past visits, intent to visit, and willingness to recommend destinations to others.

Survey results were aggregated and weighted in proportion to their regions’ respective volume of travel consumption. This was done in an attempt to minimize potential bias around preferred locations from respondents from regions that may have been over-represented in the sample. Performance on attributes by country was then considered against expert opinions and secondary statistics in order to generate the country rankings.

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The CBI also identified China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Croatia, respectively, as the top three “rising stars” - those likely to become major tourist destinations in the next five years. Also making the list this year are Vietnam, India and Cuba. In addition, this year’s CBI includes an in-depth report of how China is doing post-Beijing Olympics.

“In this our fourth year, it is exciting to see many countries embracing the idea of brand. However, we still feel this is a largely underdeveloped category with most countries continuing to promote and market themselves in ways that are not differentiated. Particularly in the coming years, country brands must improve both their strategic orientation as well as their delivery,” said Rina Plapler, senior executive director, FutureBrand.

This year’s CBI touches on a variety of topics relevant to travelers and tourism professionals including: intergenerational travel (represented by countries such as the U.S., Canada and Japan), medical tourism, mainstream luxury (represented by countries like Japan and Spain), ‘stay’cations and a rise in the off-the-beaten-track trips. Other notable trends this year focus on niche travel opportunities and the changing destination landscape.
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