The COVID-19 pandemic caused a decline in global competitiveness for many cities. Governments tightened their border controls and imposed harsh social distance restrictions. According to the 2021 GPCI,
The future of these international hubs in the global economy after the pandemic remains to be seen. But, the 2021 Global Power City Index—produced by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies in Tokyo—found most major cities have adapted to work-from-home and hybrid work trends.
Peter Dustan (a researcher at The Institute for Urban Strategies) says international travel remains difficult due to COVID regulations. However, cities have started relaxing social distancing measures as COVID-19 vaccinations are increasing. Some cities now require proof of vaccination for large events and to eat in restaurants, as well as public transit use.
Dustan thinks this year’s Power City Index, released Wednesday, is useful for comparing how cities have been affected by COVID-19. “The shape or character of urban attractiveness may shift, but its importance in attracting new business and talent will remain,” he says.
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Hong Kong, for instance, has dropped from being ninth to thirteenth in 2020 after it ranked within the top 10 annually over the past seven year. Hong Kong’s government has among the toughest COVID-19 border restrictions in the world, with up to three weeks of mandatory hotel quarantine for travelers. With 88%, the Asian financial center saw the largest drop in air passenger numbers.
London continues to be the most attractive city, according to the Global Power City Index, but its overall score dipped, with the report’s authors attributing the decline to both the pandemic and Brexit, which hampered its economy and global accessibility. “The fact that all other European cities increased their economy scores suggests that the U.K.’s exit from the EU is beginning to have an impact, allowing other European cities to start catching up to London,” the institute said.
Tokyo saw an improvement in its overall scores due to Paralympics 2020 and Olympics 2020, as well as improvements in flexibility and work efficiency from Japan.
The Global Power City Index evaluates and ranks global cities by their “magnetism” using 70 indicators across six categories: economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment and accessibility.
This year’s study showed that accessibility took a significant hit in the 48 cities it examined. In fact, compared with the year prior to the pandemic, international flights between the two cities fell nearly 50%.
But the Institute for Urban Strategies reported some positive changes in the 48 cities despite fewer people moving between them—more than half of them saw an increase in co-working spaces and a decline in working hours.
Here are the Global Power City Index’s top 10 world cities: