By Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) – The Philippines ranked 8th in the list of the “World’s Friendliest Countries” in the “Expat Explorer Survey 2011” conducted by banking giant HSBC, it was reported on the website of Forbes magazine.
The survey showed that hospitality is the greatest asset of the Philippines in the tourism industry.
The survey conducted in 100 countries worldwide between May and July 2011 rates countries based on the preference of expatriates to make them “their second home.”
The 15 friendliest countries in the world, starting from the highest rated, are New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, Canada, United States, Turkey, United Kingdom, Philippines, Spain, Malaysia, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, and France.
Expatriates perceive the Philippines as a country that “is friendly on wallets,” with 47 percent of the respondents reporting “an increase in access to luxuries” such as domestic staff, swimming pools, and owning properties.
In the survey, the Philippines trails behind United Kingdom where expatriates find integration into the community to be relatively easy, though expressing concerns on the high cost of living.
The Philippines ranks ahead of Spain where expatriates “fit in well,” many of them reporting to have integrated well into their community, enjoyed the local culture, made friends, learned and used the language, and have experienced a better work-life balance than in their home countries (which included the UK, US, France, and the Netherlands.)
HSBC surveyed 3,385 expatriates in 100 countries but only 31 were ranked for the survey. This is because countries with fewer than 30 respondents were deemed statistically insignificant.
Bermuda, which ranked highly last year, was not included in the list this year because it had too few respondents.
Countries were rated in four categories: ability to befriend locals, success in learning the local language, capacity for integrating themselves into the community, and ease in which they fit into the new culture.
These factors, according to New York-based coach for expatriates Heather Markel, are “among the biggest challenges when relocating.”
On top of the survey is New Zealand, Australia and South Africa where it is “easiest to befriend locals, learn local language, integrate into the community and fit into the new culture.”
New Zealand scored highly in all four categories. Seventy-five percent of the respondents reported that they integrated well into the local community. In this criteria, Australia scored 77 percent while South Africa scored 79 percent.
New Zealand natives “seem like happy people, and that translates into friendly, helpful and kind people,” American expatriate Kim Brinster was quoted in the survey.
Brinster, who owned a bookstore in New York City, relocated to Waiheke Island, off Auckland to be with her New Zealander partner.
She also admires the Zealanders’ “pitch-in-and-help mentality” as well as the navigable government and health care systems.
The United Arab Emirates was rated as the least friendly country for expatriates, while countries that are most challenging for expats were Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia and India.
India was ranked in the last place for the second year in a row. Survey respondent Pia Mollback-Verbic, originally from Denmark, was quoted as saying that India “is simply a minefield of relentless mental, emotional and practical daily challenges for most non-Indians.”
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