The Storms River mouth in the Tsitsikamma National Park in the Eastern Cape province is one of the country’s most beautiful areas. South Africa is particularly well known for its natural beauty and received its best ranking from 11 out of the 20 panel countries on this measure.
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• Petrus de Kock
Brand South Africa
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Wilma den Hartigh
South Africa’s overall global reputation has remained steady for the second consecutive year, maintaining its 36th position out of 50 nations under review in the latest Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index (NBI), an annual survey which measures global opinions of various developing and developed countries across the world.
This is a significant achievement for South Africa as the findings come at a time when two thirds of the surveyed countries, some which are considered the world’s most highly regarded nations, suffered declines in their reputation over the past year.
South Africa’s stable position as a nation brand is important because the way a country is perceived can make a major difference to the success of its business, trade and tourism efforts, as well as its diplomatic and cultural relations with other nations.
Dr Petrus de Kock, research manager at Brand South Africa, says the country’s inclusion in the report is recognition of South Africa’s position in global economic and political systems.
De Kock says that promoting the country is not only the job of the government. “The way South Africans speak about their country and relate to others also plays a role when shaping perceptions,” he says.
The Anholt survey is conducted annually – approximately 20 000 people are interviewed in 20 core panel countries, one of which is South Africa. They consist of major developed and developing nations that play a key role in international relations, trade, the flow of business, cultural and tourism activities.
The respondents rate 50 countries on questions in six categories, namely exports, governance, culture, people, tourism and immigration/investment. The index measures the power and appeal of each country’s ‘brand image’ by examining its competence in these categories.
The US retained the top spot for the fourth year in a row, as the nation with the best overall reputation, followed by Germany (2nd), UK (3rd), France (4th), Canada (5th), Japan (6th), Italy (7th), Switzerland (8th), Australia (9th) and Sweden in 10th position.
NBI founder Simon Anholt, in his analysis of the results, said in a statement that with a few exceptions, developed nations, ranking among the top 20, have registered some of the biggest score losses.
“Put simply, the world likes the world a bit less than it did last year,” Anholt said.
Most countries that achieved higher scores in 2012 have come from emerging regions, with the highest gains for the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Kenya, and Poland.
No small feat for South Africa
South Africans provided high rankings in the people, tourism and culture categories, but are more critical about areas such as governance and immigration/Investment.
The latter refers to a country’s ability to attract talent and capital, its economic prosperity, equal opportunity, and the perception that it is a place with a high quality of life. The country’s economic and business conditions are also measured.
The report notes that South Africa faces the greatest difficulty in the area of governance, with South Africans being more critical of their government in 2012.
Although South Africans’ overall score for their own country in this area declined, the country recorded some gains in this area, outdoing its Brics partners, India and Russia, in this category.
Tourism, culture, people
South Africa moved ahead of Russia, South Korea and China in the people category, which measures people’s friendliness by whether respondents would feel welcome when visiting the country.
According to the report South Africans are admired across most panel countries for their welcoming nature, especially when it comes to wanting someone from South Africa as a close friend.
The cultural reputation of a nation is considered to be among the most volatile of all indices, but South Africa’s standing in the culture category remains its strongest asset, being ranked 28th. In this category the country scored highly on sporting excellence (16th), but is somewhat less known for its culture – both contemporary (34th) and historic (33th).
South Africa’s rank of 34 for tourism is the same as last year. The country, which is particularly well known for its natural beauty (15th), received its best ranking from 11 out of the 20 panel countries on this measure.
The study found that international travellers, defined as people who have visited at least one foreign country, are the most positive toward South Africa. Travellers view South Africa as a tourist destination, which is also an appealing place to live and work.
However, they also note that it is a creative place that contributes to technology, produces quality products and offers both investment and educational opportunities.
Selecting the countries
The list of 50 nations is based on their political and economic importance in global geopolitics and the flow of trade, businesses, people and tourism activities. Regional representation and the diversity of political and economic systems are also taken into consideration.
The panel countries are: Western Europe/North America, which includes the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden; Central and Eastern Europe including Russia, Poland and Turkey; Japan, China, India, South Korea and Australia comprise the Asia-Pacific category; Argentina, Brazil and Mexico as part of Latin America; and the Middle East/Africa panel, which includes Egypt and South Africa.
• Slideshow image courtesy of Gauteng Film Commission