Cities find themselves increasingly in competition with one another, particularly on account of globalization. For this reason, they are constantly attempting to attract more residents, tourism, investment and activities, and to position themselves at the top of the various “league tables” that have emerged in recent years to indicate the attractiveness of the great metropolises. These classifications, of varying degrees of rigour, are published, disseminated and discussed and hence have an impact on the image of local areas. In 2009, for example, The Economist and Mercer ranked Tokyo as the world’s most expensive city, while Vancouver (The Economist) and Vienna (Mercer) were said to be the most pleasant to live in.
In this context, the notion of territorial attractiveness has become essential in the “evaluation of the performance and dynamism of cities”, one of the priorities of city planning policies. But what is meant by the term “attractiveness”? What are its dimensions and determinants?
After presenting the main attractiveness “league tables”, François Cusin and Julien Damon enquire into this new concept, which they compare with the notion of competitiveness. “To gauge the attractiveness of a city is to assess its sphere of influence, its capacity to generate movement and to exert lasting attraction”, observe our authors. Beyond its economic functions, a territory must therefore offer its inhabitants well-being and quality of life. It must provide what they call “residential attractiveness”.
To stay competitive, local governments are developing ambitious city planning policies, putting attractiveness at the heart of their strategy and drawing on the new discipline of urban marketing — so great a priority has the promotion of their brand image become.