Switzerland claimed 9th position in the 2011 index, four places lower than in 2005, the first year the survey was conducted.
Switzerland’s image has suffered in recent years, although the country is still appreciated for its governance, described as “competent” and “honest,” for its quality of life, its measures to protect the environment, and its contribution to science, said a statement from Presence Switzerland, the federal body tasked with managing and boosting the image of the country abroad.
The Nation Brands Index rates the strength and attractiveness of 50 countries every year according to six criteria: exports, governance, tourism, investments and immigration, culture and heritage, and people.
Despite jokes about how much they dislike their Alpine neighbours, Germans rate Switzerland the second most attractive country in the world. China and Russia both rank it 5th, while Turkey and the United States place it in 6th and 7th position, respectively.
The three most attractive countries in the world are the United States, Germany and Britain, according to the Nation Brands Index.
The perception of Switzerland changes when foreign media, rather than the general public, are asked for their say.
“Abroad, we are very much loved by the public, [but] the media are more critical,” Nicolas Bideau, head of Presence Switzerland, told newspaper Le Matin.
For the first time, the federal department of Foreign Affairs has been monitoring and analyzing the tone of media around the world in articles covering Switzerland.
Foreign press reports were especially critical of fiscal issues and Swiss bank scandals, such as a indictment involving banking giant Julius Bär, or the UBS rogue trader who lost the bank 2 billion francs.
Other topics that made international headlines were the disappearance of twins Alessia and Livia, the presentation of a solar ski lift in canton Graubünden, and the initiative to remove weapons from homes, which fascinated the US and German media.
Even though the image of Switzerland in foreign media leans towards the negative and its overall attractiveness has deteriorated, Bideau stressed that the country still enjoys an excellent reputation beyond its borders.
“We’re still loved,” he told Le Matin.