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Australia, U.S. and Italy Top Country Brands

Australia, U.S. and Italy Rank Highest as Country Brands

LONDON, Nov. 7 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --


- China, Croatia and United Arab Emirates Seen as Tourism Rising Stars -

- New Generation of Travel No Longer Relying on Authoritative Experts -

- Travelers Becoming More Attracted to the 'Scarce and Limited' -


Australia ranks as the top overall country brand, according to the second annual Country Brand Index 2006 (CBI) released at World Travel Market, the premier annual exhibition of the global travel trade. The United States and Italy ranked second and third, respectively. The CBI identifies countries as brands and emerging global travel trends in the world's fastest-growing economic sector(1) -- travel and tourism. This sector accounts for more than one in every 11 jobs worldwide. The CBI also identified China, Croatia and the United Arab Emirates as the top three "rising star" countries -- those likely to be major tourism destinations in the next five years.

Developed by FutureBrand, a leading global brand consultancy, in conjunction with public relations firm Weber Shandwick's Global Travel Practice, the global study of more than 1,500 international travelers, travel industry experts and hospitality professionals examines how countries can be branded and ranked according to key criteria. This year's CBI includes rankings, as well as emerging trends, travel motivations, challenges and opportunities within the world of travel, tourism and country branding.

"Countries can no longer continue to see themselves as commodities. A country brand is more than tourism. It is exports, investments, trade and industry," said Rina Plapler, executive director, FutureBrand. "We continue to believe that branding is a tremendous opportunity for both developed and developing countries to build preference, consideration, loyalty and advocacy."

CBI Highlights

Best Country Brand for Authenticity India
Best Off-the-beaten-Track/Exotic Country Brand Peru
Best Country Brand for Families U.S.
Best Country Brand for Beaches The Bahamas
Best Country Brand for Natural Beauty New Zealand
Best Country Brand for Nightlife/Dining Italy
Best Country Brand for Shopping U.S.
Best Country Brand for Safety Canada
Best Country Brand for Value for Money Thailand
Best Country Brand to do Business U.S.

"If travel and tourism is the world's second largest industry -- often driving entire national economies -- governments should be focusing more attention on how their destinations not only market themselves, but also influence and improve the experience for every visitor," said Rene A. Mack, president of Weber Shandwick's Global Travel Practice.

The CBI also reports that new trends in travel and tourism are emerging, and key markets are gaining momentum as consumers are focused on meeting their unique criteria when planning a trip. This year's trends revolve around "experiences beyond the guidebook," including:

* By Travelers for Travelers - A new generation of travel content no longer relies on authoritative experts. Technology has given rise to countless Web sites and blogs that are geared to social networking. Travelers are embracing these vehicles to organize and shape a travel community for travelers, by travelers.

* Scarcity Drives Demand - Travelers are becoming more attracted to the scarce and the limited. The harder it is to get in, the more desirable the experience is becoming.

* At Home While Abroad - Many travel companies now employ people of the same visitor nationality to service their tours. Speaking the language is no longer sufficient and now many travel companies promote "travel with someone from your own country."

With new trends and an expanding global travel community come new audiences that are seeking intoxicating spas, "health-tels," semi-permanent vacation homes and commemoration trips abroad, e.g., weddings, anniversaries, reunions, milestones and multi-generational bonding.

FutureBrand's research continues to affirm the importance of practical needs (safety, value for the money, ability to easily communicate, proximity and weather) and experiential wants (natural beauty, authenticity, art/culture, lodging and resort options, and outdoor activities) in a country-brand ranking. It shows that the fine chemistry of practical needs and experiential wants helps define the brand and overall destination experience, and influences how and why leisure travelers select a country to visit.

Methodology

FutureBrand has developed a three-tiered evaluation system for ranking country brands. This study incorporates traditional quantitative market research from a globally diverse sample. It also includes expert opinions, and references relevant statistics that link brand equity to assets, growth and expansion. The result is a unique evaluation system that provides the basis of our rankings. More than 1,500 respondents participated in a travel survey. Respondents were recruited from a globally diverse sample including the Americas, Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East. Participants were screened to include only frequent international travelers (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. More than 35 international travel industry experts spanning writers, editors, analysts and hospitality professionals participated. Experts were recruited from multiple regions to ensure a diverse and representative sample of opinions.

About FutureBrand

FutureBrand (http://www.futurebrand.com), part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG), is the leading strategic brand development firm within IPG that commands a global presence spanning 21 offices in 17 countries. Partnering with the world's leading companies, FutureBrand helps its clients to develop profitable brands both today and into the future. Offering a full range of services from consumer branding and corporate identity, to brand identity, packaging design and beyond, FutureBrand works with clients to measure and increase brand value, define breakthrough brand strategies and create powerful brand experiences. Clients include P&G, Microsoft, InBev, Intel, Nokia, Nestle, MasterCard, UPS, and Unilever.

About Weber Shandwick

Weber Shandwick is one of the world's leading global public relations firms with offices in major media, business and government capitals around the world. The firm specializes in strategic marketing communications, media relations programs, public affairs and issues management, reputation management, and provides corporate communications counseling. Weber Shandwick also provides specialized integrated services including Web relations, advocacy advertising, market research and visual communications. Find out more at http://www.webershandwick.com Weber Shandwick is a unit of The Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG), which is among the world's largest advertising and marketing services organizations.

(1) As cited by the World Tourism Organization in terms of foreign
exchange earnings and job creation.


ENDS

Web site: http://www.webershandwick.com
http://www.futurebrand.com

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