Guiding documents of the World Tourism Cities

Guiding documents of the World Tourism Cities

Publish Time:2014-06-26 10:09:00Source:WTCF

【Introduction】:1 Goal and significanceWTCF is the first international tourism organization that unites tourism cities and develop

1. Goal and significance

WTCF is the first international tourism organization that unites tourism cities and develops a rigorous and valid tourism cities evaluation system for strengthening the federation's say across the globe and guiding world tourism cities' development. The mutual efforts in marketing development will be community communication and cooperation among tourism cities, enabling them to be conducive to promoting standardization of the tourism statistic system and providing efficient service to both the member cities and non-member cities. It will be conducive to enabling the tourism cities to identify comparative advantages in the world tourism competition and the disadvantages compared to the fellow cities, while providing theoretical basis for their decisions regarding future development.

In April 2011, Beijing Jiaotong University started to conduct the research project on the world tourism cities evaluation system, under the full support of the Beijing government at all municipal levels and the guidance of the Committee of Experts of the WTCF.. The project attempts to interpret the concept of a ‘world tourism city', analyze its elements and work out a comprehensive evaluation system, in order to establish a tool for observation and understanding of future tourism development, and a platform for the tourism cities to share experience.

2. Ranking of international cities

More research on cities has been produced in the recent years and increasing attention has been brought to the ranking of cities published by influencing organizations.

2.1 Ranking of cities

The research team analyzed several rankings of World Cities (Table 1), such as the Global Power City Index (GPCI) and the Economist's Most Livable City Index, and found two salient features. Firstly, the index design reveals strong emphasis on stratification and hierarchy, which points to the consideration of the comprehensiveness of the evaluation index and to avoid repetition on the other. The second feature involves the way practicality and comparability is examined through the index selection and data processing. The evaluation indexes are ultimately used to compare multiple evaluated subjects, identifying gaps to plan for developmental goal. Therefore, the index selection and data processing should take into account data availability and standardization of statistical method.

2.2 Ranking of tourism cities

(1) The Travel + Leisure Ranking

Travel + Leisure, published in U.S., is one of the most influential travel magazines worldwide. For 17 consecutive years since 1996, it has been rated the best in travel and leisure services, including cities, islands, hotels, airlines, cruise companies, and car rental companies. The survey is structured with five categories: attraction sites, culture and art, dining, shopping, and value. The ranking is produced by a readership survey..

(2) The Euromonitor ranking

Euromonitor, started in 1972 and headquartered in London, is an internationally famous marketing consulting company. Euromonitor annually publishes ‘The Best 100 Tourism Destinations in the World', based on their analyses of tourists arrivals.

(3) The Tripadvisor ranking

Tripadvisor is one of the biggest and most popular online tourism communities in the world and the best in tourism review. It has 35 million monthly visitors, over 10 million registered members, and 25 million posts. Taking advantage of the large body of visitors, the site conducts a vote every year on the world's best tourism cities. Their 2012 ranking was based on tens of millions of tourist reviews on 440 destinations worldwide.

(4)The MasterCard Ranking

The American MasterCard International Organization is a non-profit organization that consists of financial institutions worldwide. Since 2010, the MasterCard International organization has published reports ranking the world's popular tourism destinations based on the tourist arrivals and total tourist consumption.

Guiding documents of the World Tourism Cities

(5) An interpretation of the tourism city rankings

The above four rankings, by influential international organizations, reflect the international mainstream perceptions and judgments of world tourism cities. There are both differences and similarities among the rankings. European, Asian, and American cities take up most of the positions and very few Oceanian and African cities are seen. Cities like London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong and Bangkok appear in the top 20 of almost every ranking. Two types of cities have secured top positions: metropolitan cities, such as New York and Paris, stand out for their size and scale. The other is medium or smaller cities with good tourism quality, such as Sydney, Cape Town, Marrakech and Siem Reap. Siem Reap is a small town with a population of 85,000 in Cambodia, but is ranked in the top 10 in two rankings. For Chinese cities, Hong Kong is among the top cities in most rankings. Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an are also internationally recognized tourism cities in the world.

Overall, the different ranking methods might have resulted in ranking variation. There are mainly two approaches being used to rank the world tourism cities. One approach relies on tourists' subjective perceptions of the cities, which is based on large-scale research. The second approach involves index designing and data collection and processing. It is a very objective method, but due to the great divergence in city types, comparison is difficult because of incompatible data. This is why the rankings mentioned above only examined the international tourists numbers and the international tourism revenue, neglecting factors such as length, integral development of the city and tourism, and interaction factors between the tourists and the city.

Our interpretation points out that different evaluation standards would result in different ranking outcomes. Cities might be in different developmental stages and positions, which makes certain indexes incomparable. It is also unsuitable to use merely one or several indexes to conduct a comparison. One type of quantified indexes, or the tourist questionnaire alone, cannot fully investigate the integrated strength of city development. A comprehensive and full-scale tourism city evaluation system is therefore needed.

3. The establishment of the evaluation system

3.1 The proposed “World Tourism City Development Index”

The World Tourism City Development Index is a comprehensive index used to evaluate the tourism cities' development. It can be adopted to evaluate and benchmark cities worldwide in terms of tourism development level and progress. Similar to other indexes, TCDI combines the tourism economic index, social index and other related indexes, revealing balance and unbalance between the tourism industry development and the social and economic development. Evaluation results would reflect the depths and scope of the tourism development in different cities.

The research team referred to the opinions of both domestic and foreign experts and some member cities in order to measure the tourism development, economic and social development, and the city development performance in the tourism cities. The team studied the well-known international rankings and finally constructed a three-pronged evaluation system that consisted of a, comprehensive index, a single index, and feature index. The system evaluates tourists, the tourism industry, and the city management.

The six single indexes include: the tourism prosperity index, tourism development potential index, tourism attraction index, support for tourism index, tourism satisfaction index, and the tourism awareness index. The tourism prospect index and the tourism development potential index evaluate the city tourism industry and the potential of the tourism related industries. They measure the current development and the development potential of the tourism industry.

The tourism attraction index and the support for tourism index evaluate objective development foundation and subjective support. They measure the supportive efforts from city governments and relevant organizations. The tourism satisfaction index and the tourism awareness index evaluate tourists' and the public's perception and experience of tourism cities. They measure the quality of city tourism service and the city's tourism image.

Guiding documents of the World Tourism Cities

3.2 A description of the evaluation index system

Although work has been done to efficiently distinguish the concepts of each term, index repetition, and difficulties of data collection, more data research is not yet complete. The research team used the following principles during the process of defining and developing the index system:

First, finding a balance between absolute and relative indexes, sum and per capital indexes, and synchronic and diachronic indexes.

Secondly, using a limited number of variants to facilitate data collection and management.

Thirdly, the data comes from credited sources, avoiding sensitive and immeasurable data.

And finally, in the case of repeated indexes, the most convincing second-level index remained.

Filtered by the four principles above, the final index system is established as shown in Table 2.

Guiding documents of the World Tourism Cities

(1) The tourism prospect index

The tourism prospect index reflects the current development and development trends of the tourism industry in cities and can be used as a benchmark for the overall prospect of tourism during a certain period. This index encompasses two perspectives: the tourism development scale and growth rate. It is measured by using industry indicators like the international tourists arrivals, tourism revenue and growth, volume of domestic tourists, tourism revenue and growth, and the hotel room occupancy rate. Generally speaking, the greater the tourism reception scale, the faster the growth rate, the higher the hotel room occupancy rate, and the faster the hotel room rates increase, determines how high it will be on the city tourism prospect index. The international tourism indicators are considered more important than the domestic ones and underline the importance of the international feature of the tourism cities.

(2) The tourism development potential index

The tourism development potential index reflects the city's potential of sustainably boosting the tourism industry's development and indicates the growth, space and the prospective development of tourism. The measurement is determined by the annual growth rate of the inbound tourists, the ratio between the service sector output and GDP, the ratio between the service sector employment, and total employment sectors. Normally, a lower ratio between the service sector output and GDP and between the service sector employment and total employment in all industries means greater space for development. Newly emerging tourism cities usually have greater development potential than international metropolitans with a mature tourism industry.

(3) The tourism attraction index

The tourism attraction index reflects a city's attractiveness to tourists in terms of tourism resources, infrastructure, and environment, all which can express a city's tourism charm. The measurement looks at several different perspectives : resource, vitality and tourism auxiliary support facility systems, the number of the world heritage sites, the number of international conventions, the international air traffic routes, and the environmental quality. The tourism attraction index is usually higher for a city that has rich tourism resources, high quality environment, and greater international accessibility.

(4) The support for tourism index

The support for tourism index reflects how supportive and open the local government is for city tourism and indicates the degree of convenience and hospitality the tourists would encounter in the destination. The measurement is based on an examination of the public tourism information service, the position of tourism in the local development strategies, and VISA issuance facilitation. If a city puts tourism high in its local developmental plan, offers a good public information network, and its VISA issuance is convenient, its support for tourism index tends to be high.

(5) The tourism satisfaction index

The tourism satisfaction index reflects tourists' satisfaction in available products and services. This explains the matching degree of services provided by tourism cities and market demands. The measurement looks at several perspectives: tourists' overall satisfaction, tourism core product satisfaction, and tourism developmental environment satisfaction. It is based ondata mining and extraction of visitors' information from international representative tourism web site. In General, the more "satisfied" comments a tourism city received, the higher the overall satisfaction of tourists possessed. The evaluation of core product and developmental environment satisfaction helps to understand the specific factors that affect tourists' satisfaction.

(6) The tourism awareness index

The tourism awareness index reflects how the public perceives and recognizes the city's tourism image. The measurement looks at three different perspectives: tourism city image recognition; public attention and city influence; and through information channels of tourists, experts and member cities for data acquisition and evaluation. In general, if the tourism city has high image recognition, great influence, and frequently provides tourism information, its tourism popularity index tends to be high.

4. Assessment methods

4.1 Processing of raw data

The tourism development index system uses numerous data and the indicators differ in perspectives, to be dimensionless is needed firstly.

Non-dimensionalization for “positive indicator”, namely, the indicator that contributes positively to the index. The extreme value method or ratio method is adopted.

Extreme value method formula:

Guiding documents of the World Tourism Cities

Xi is the raw data; Min is the minimum value in a set of data. Range is the difference between the highest and the lowest values in a set (i.e. MAX-MIN). Yi is the dimensionless data.

Ratio method formula:

Guiding documents of the World Tourism Cities

Xi is the raw data; Max is the maximum value in a set of data; Yi is the dimensionless data.

“Reverse processing” of the negative indicator, namely, the indicator that contributes negatively to the index. There are two ways of “reverse processing”, one is reciprocal conversion, and the other is non-dimensionalization of the data (a number ranging between 0 and 1), preceding a step in which 1 minus the non-dimensionalized result.

4.2 Weight assignment

The present research involves weight assignment. Subjective and objective weight assignments were both used in the research.

(1) Subjective assignment is applied to determining the weights of the sub-indexes, which depends on the subjective opinions of the experts. The research team consulted experts from the related fields and asked them to assign weights to each category of the questionnaire. The weights assigned were again calculated on a weighted basis to determine the final weights given to each sub-index.

(2)As for the indicator, subjective assignment was applied to some of them since they are clearly defined and there are classic theories serving as theoretical foundation. The experts could not come up with an effective weight assignment for indicators without an available theoretical foundation. So they adopted objective assignment methods such as factor analysis and the optimum weight method.

4.3 Index Synthesis

Tourism Development Index took a linear weighting method for all levels of index synthesis. Indicator weights were obtained at all levels by processing expert scoring data according to an AHP method.

Sub-index value (raw data) is the collection of processed data results multiplied [by] their weighs. For the convenience of publishing and understanding, sub-index was processed in an extreme value method. All data were converted into percentages. Cities with 100 points held the highest score and the rest followed the same criteria. Sub-index score [was gathered by] multiplying their respective weights were synthesized into the tourism development index.

5. The development prospect

5.1 To establish an evaluation index and statistical standards that have worldwide applicability

The World Tourism City evaluation involves stages of index supervision, publication, examination and revision. Our research team will work with the international organizations, the federation member cities and institutions to develop an index that is in line with the international organization framework, and to ensure at the same time the index consistency and standardization. The team expects member cities to take part in the index selection and establishment, data supervision and publication, to build up an evaluation system that depends on wide participation of the member cities and to lay foundation to the standardization of the tourism city statistic index.

The world tourism city index should be published periodically. The rankings can be made public through a news conference, websites, and annual reports. The evaluation system produced at the moment is an intermediate achievement, and with the support from the WTCF, the cooperative institutions, and the experiment cities, our project team and the world tourism city expert committee will revise the world tourism city evaluation system.

5.2 To build a cooperative mechanism of multi data collection channels

The data obtained was primarily purchased from consulting firms and collected by the research team. The research team is considering a cooperative mechanism of multi data collection channels. The data would be collected from one of the following three channels. The first is the research team's collection of each cities' official data. The second is the construction of a world tourism city evaluation system database, which will be built by the research team and whose data will be provided and updated on a regular basis by the member cities and relevant research institutions. The third is building cooperative observation sites with overseas research institutions, with experts designated by the WTCF working as site manager. The sites will generate annual data of local area to assist research on World Tourism City evaluation. This mechanism will help ensure reliable and timely data collection, and develop extension products such as special databases entitled with intellectual property rights.


In June 2013, the WTCF Committee of Experts assessed the World Tourism Cities Evaluation System project. The evaluation system will be more scientific and authoritative and more widely recognized by the joint efforts of the Federation, the member cities, institutions, and the Committee of Experts of the WTCF. When conditions are ripe, the project team will take the member cities of WTCF as the mainstay to evaluate world-class tourism cities by this evaluation system, and publish the rankings.

Tourism provides an important momentum for a city's economic and social development. In a sense, ‘development' will be an everlasting theme for future tourism cities. The World Tourism City Development Evaluation System is focused on serving tourists. Promoting sustainability will become the bond and bridge to connect the WTCF member cities. It evaluation will help the municipal mayors and city planners to understand the advantages and disadvantages of tourism development. It will also become the basis for tourism planning and the medium for destination marketing. We have reasons to believe that under the joint efforts of the Federation, the member cities, institutions, and the expert team, our work will effectively propel the tourism development in various cities and offer tourists better tourism city lives.

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