London - The feel-good factor was riding high in London last year, thanks to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and everyone seemed to have a smile on their faces.
But all the uncharacteristic bonhomie wasn’t enough to nudge London into the top 10 list of friendliest cities. Instead, you’ll have to travel to Brazil, the host of the 2016 Olympic Games, to find the warmest welcome.
Florianopolis, on the country’s south coast, was voted the world’s friendliest city by Conde Nast Traveler readers in a recent poll by the travel magazine.
The city, which is nicknamed the “Island of Magic” and is famous for its pristine white beaches, is reported to offer gorgeous views, great markets and “nice” people, with even the service at the local airport being described as “courteous”.
Hobart in Tasmania and Thimpu in Bhutan were voted second and third friendliest cities.
Hobart, which is the capital of the island state, is said to be located in a “truly unique part of the world” and is populated with “kind, friendly” locals. Visitors to the “delightful” island also appreciated its “pristine natural beauty” and abundance of “distinctive mountains, beaches and animals”.
Thimpu, Bhutan’s largest city and capital, offers an “extraordinary experience” and is a “fascinating combination of modern and ancient”. The Bhutanese “promote a policy of maintaining gross national happiness” and visitors are told to “pack your best relaxed attitude and sense of adventure.”
You have to look a lot further down the list to find a UK city – Edinburgh is ranked 18th and described as a “wonderful” city with a “cool vibe”. One reader noted that the friendly locals make “excellent guides for walking tours”, while even bus drivers go out of their way to help.
The survey also revealed the world’s most unfriendly cities. Newark in New Jersey was voted the rudest city with readers commenting that the only reason to stop there would be to use its airport.
Islamabad was named the second unfriendliest but readers said that, although the city in Pakistan didn’t rate high on friendliness, there were plenty of other reasons to visit including the fact that it was “big, spacious, with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains”.
Oakland in California was accused of having an “image problem” and a “split personality”, with readers pointing out some areas are unsafe for travellers. It was said to be unfriendly and dirty and tourists were urged not to stay for long.
A new travel trends report by the UN World Tourism Organisation has revealed France received more foreign visitors than any other country last year, beating the US to the top spot.
France, a popular holiday destination thanks to its Mediterranean beaches, camp sites and ski resorts, had 83 million visitors last year.
The US was second with 67 million. China and Spain were joint third with 57.7 million.
But tourists in France spent much less than those visiting the US – an average of £422 (R6 430) a head in France compared to £1 230 in the US.
The UK ranked eighth with 29.3 million visitors, who spent an average of £816 each.
London fared better when it came to the world’s most popular city destinations. It received 15.96 million visitors last year, which saw it take second place after Bangkok, which received 15.98 million. Paris came third with 13.93 million visitors. – Daily Mail
Top 10 friendliest cities
1 Florianopolis, Brazil
2 Hobart, Tasmania
3 Thimpu, Bhutan
4 Queenstown, New Zealand
5 Charleston, South Carolina
6 Paro, Bhutan
Tied with Margaret River, Australia
7 Mandalay, Burma
9 Kilkenny, Ireland
Tied with Ubud, Bali
10 Chiang Mai, Thailand
Top 10 unfriendliest cities
1 Newark, New Jersey
2 Islamabad, Pakistan
3 Oakland, California
4 Luanda, Angola
5 Kuwait City, Kuwait
6 Lome, Togo
7 New Haven, Connecticut
8 Detroit, Michigan
9 Atlantic City, New Jersey
10 Tangier, Morocco