During the Spring Festival of 2018, the Canton Tower and Eiffel Tower lit up simultaneously, symbolizing the two great cities joining hands and connecting East and West. Other famous world towers, such as the Empire State Building and Ostankino Tower also lighted up in the day, kicking off spring festival in Guangzhou. During the period, members of the World Federation of Great Towers (WFGT) popped up across the globe, lighting up the sky once more.
The tower is one of humankind’s oldest architectural accomplishments. Today, the impetus for towers has moved beyond the pragmatic and defensive, and most are for the purposes of communications, tourism, entertainment, and shopping. Modern ingenuity and technology make it possible to reach incredible heights.
WFGT was founded in 1989. Its mission is to showcase the great towers of the world and celebrate the astonishing feats of architecture and engineering that created them. Now, the federation has 49 members from over 20 countries. Despite their variety, even in isolation, each tower is monumental.
In recent years, as the cultural tourism industry continues to burgeon, the concept of “Great Tower Economy” provides a new idea and opportunity to dig up potential value hidden in towers, which often serve as a city’s landmark. Data shows that the 49 WFGT members welcome over 50 million visitors a year. Tourism is an important feature of daily operations of the tower, and promotes economic growth, brands, and a city’s charm.
Ⅱ Evaluation Method
2.1 Evaluation Objects
The evaluation objects in this report are WFGT members, including 49 great towers such as the Burj Khalifa, Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower, KL Tower, Canton Tower, Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, and Beijing Central Radio & TV Tower.
2.2 Evaluation Dimension
Current evaluations of the world’s great towers mainly concentrate on the height dimension, but lack such dimensions as economic performance, brand impact, and social responsibility. By creating an index from multi-dimensional evaluation criteria, this report evaluates the great towers comprehensively in aspects of economic performance, brand impact, social responsibility, and basic facilities. The report illustrates the relations between towers, their local economies, and cultural development.
2.3 Data Source
The data for this report is from official websites of WFGT and WFGT member towers, professional travel and film websites, and search engines. Data collection finished on August 28th, 2019.
In light of the diversity of data sources for brand impact indices, to make index values more reasonable and practical, this report weights each data source. The second-level indexes in this report are all positive, meaning that the higher the index value, the better the tower performance in that dimension. Original data of the third-level indexes is nondimensionalized to eliminate their impacts of different magnitudes, forming indexes ranging from 60 to 100, inclusive.
The formula is as follow:
Because the third-level inverse index “ranking in local scenic spots” (a lower value indicating higher popularity), this report standardizes it positively to obtain the second-level index of popularity.
The formula is as follow:
Chart 1 WFGT Development Indices Evaluation System
To make the results accord better with statistical distribution and enhance readability, in this report we standardize the Review Index based on quartile principle, making the values range between 60 and 100, inclusive.
The formula is as follows:
3.1 Basic Facilities Index
WFGT members are mostly 100-300 or 300-500 meters high, and there are 21 and 20 towers respectively, together accounting for 84% of all members. There are 6 towers with a height of between 500-700 meters: Canton Tower (600 meters), Ping An Financial Center-Free Sky (592 meters), CN Tower (553 meters), Ostankino TV Tower (540 meters), Willis Tower Sky Deck (529 meters) and TAIPEI 101 (508 meters). At 828 meters, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest completed building in the world. One WFGT member is below 100 meters high, namely, the UFO viewing deck, with a height of 95.
There are 5 great towers in China (including Hongkong, Macao, and Taiwan) among the world’s top 10 in height. Among them, Canton Tower climbs the first place at 600 meters high, followed by Ping An Financial Center-Free Sky (592 meters), TAIPEI 101 (508 meters), Sky100 Hongkong Observation Deck (484 meters), and the Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower.
Graph 1 WFGT Towers Height Distribution
Graph 2 WFGT Towers Height Ranking
Build in 1889, with a history of more than 130 years, the Eiffel Tower is the oldest WFDT member. After this, all the way up to 1960, comes the Empire State Building (1931), Top of the Rock (1935), Torre Latino Americana (1956), and Tokyo Tower (1958). Since 1960, great tower construction has been booming. About 90% of WFGT members were completed since this year. 17 towers were built in the 1960s to 1980, 14 in the 1980s to 2000, and 13 since 2000.
The “Skyscraper Index”, also called the “Lawrence Spell”, demonstrates that skyscrapers often rise in the wake of economic downturns, and is a reliable sign of cyclical boom and bust in economy. Given that towers are supported by overwhelming financial power, they can more easily be funded during periods of prosperity. Generally, it takes 8-10 years to build a skyscraper, which corresponds well to the economic cycle. This means that skyscrapers are invariably completed during the phase of an economic downtown. During prosperous times, loose monetary and financial policies often stimulate investment, visually reflected by skyscraper construction. Although the economy is fueled by investment, over-investment and speculation, both of which come with tight-money policy, ultimately lead to economic downturns. Here are prime examples: the Empire State Building was completed during the 1929-1933 recession and the Burj Khalifa was completed during the global financial crisis around 2008.
Graph 3 Timeline of WFGT Towers Completion
In the 1960s and 1970s, building television towers was popular around the world. Driven by the third science and technological revolution, TV became common globally. Populations demanded more integrated radio tower for radio and television transmissions. Therefore, towers with the main functions of defense and telecommunications were behind the times. With the growth of tourism, more and more viewing decks and sightseeing-dedicated towers rose. Almost every new tower has been a record-breaking one to show the strength of a national country. Therefore, every few years, the record is broken.
Graph 4 WFGT Towers Inauguration Date and Height Scattered Distribution
According to WFGT data, its members are mainly located in temperate and coastal regions in the northern hemisphere. With 17 towers, Asia accounts for the largest proportion of members, 35% of which are in China (including Hongkong, Macao, and Taiwan), Korea, and Japan. 30% of members are located in Europe, and the 15 towers are scatter in 10 countries including the UK, France, Netherlands, Russia, and Spain. The 14 towers of North America are chiefly located in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 3 towers are in Australia and New Zealand.
Graph 5 WFGT Towers Geographic Distribution around the World
The 17 members in Asia are scattered in 9 countries, among which China ranks first with 10 towers, Japan and Korea come next with 2 towers each, and Malaysia, Uzbekistan, and the United Arab Emirates finally with 1 tower each. 15 members are located in Europe, among which the UK, France, and Spain have 2 towers each, and Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, and Estonia have 1 tower each. 14 towers are located in North America, with 9 in the US, 4 in Canada, and 1 in Mexico. There are 2 towers in Australia and 1 in New Zealand.
Graph 6 Countries (Regions) Distribution of WFGT Towers
With its development of tourism, the tower holds a diversity of functions. Besides some traditional functions such as broadcast transmissions and telecommunications, many towers also provide functions like viewing decks, entertainment, restaurants, and shopping. Great towers mostly have 3 to 8 functions, with an average of 5. The statistical mode towers has 6 functions, accounting for 22% of all towers.
Graph 7 The Number of Functions Distribution of WFGT Towers
There are 3 types of WFGT members, namely, the television tower, viewing platform/deck, and skyscraper. Nearly six out of ten towers have functions of radio and television transmission or wireless communication, which are mainly television towers, for instance, the Canton Tower, Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, and CN Tower. 35% of towers have office functions and 22% have housing or hotel functions. These are mainly high-end towers like the Empire State Building, Burj Khalifa, Eureka Skydeck 88, Observation Deck 360, and Hague Tower.
Sightseeing is a basic function of all the world’s great towers. Having an observation or viewing deck open to the public is an essential condition of being a WFGT member. 90% of towers have restaurants in them. For example, the Canton Tower has 7 diverse restaurants, providing western-style food, Cantonese cuisine, seafood buffet, desserts, and drinks. Most great towers have cafes or bars.
Over half of the towers have exhibition functions, hosting weddings, private parties, and business or social activities, like banquet hall, outdoor viewing platform, the 3A multi-functional hall and conference hall in Canton Tower, radio broadcasting exhibition hall, films and television exhibition hall and concert hall in Beijing Broadcasting and TV building, and concert halls in Ostankino TV tower and Skylon Tower.
To make sightseeing more interesting, over 30% of towers add indoor entertainment function, like the leisure places of gymnasium and SPA in the Burj Khalifa, Yoga studio in Oakland Sky Tower, Reunion Tower and Skylon Tower, free roller skating, meditation courses provided by Tour Montparnasse, and interactive VR experience provided by the Space Needle, Top of the Rock, and Freedom Tower. Nearly 20% of towers provide outdoor games, for instances, Ferris wheels and worldwide tallest vertical fall in Canton Tower, X-sports of bungee jump, sky jump and walking in the air provided by Macau Tower and Edge Walk provided by CN TV tower.
Most of the towers have gift stores, and about 16% of towers have completed shopping feature, like AFUYIGOU shopping mall in Henan broadcasting and TV station, Toys "R" Us, and Macau creations in Macau Tower. About 12% have a cinema, like Canton Tower, Prudential Tower, Macao Tower, N Seoul Tower, and Busan Tower.
Moreover, about 30% have popular science education and cultural exhibition functions, such as the Panorama Art Gallery in the Henan broadcasting and TV station, stored with the worldwide biggest panorama painting- Beautiful Central Plain, the Jiajia Art Gallery, and the popular science education base in Sichuan broadcasting and TV station and popular science education bases in Prudential Tower, Empire State Building, Vancouver Lookout, and Willis Tower.
The iconic festival activities in over 30% of towers are highlights. Besides the celebrations like Spring Festival Light Show and fireworks, many great towers have organized commemorations relevant to local traditional festivals and cultural history, such as Guangzhou International Light Festival held by Canton Tower, which along with Lyon Festival of Lights in France and Vivid Sydney in Australia, are the three greatest light festivals of the world. To celebrate the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and China’s National Day, Sky 100 in Hong Kong holds a firework displays on July 1st and October 1st of each year. Goryokaku tower in Japan held cherry blossom festivals, like “Cherry Blossom in Goryokaku” and “Night Cherry Blossoms Illumination”. Montparnasse held park party in Easter Day and Star Night. The Skylon Tower conducted “Skylon Tower Glows Gold for Thanksgiving” and “Niagara Grape & Wine Fesitival”. Some Chinese festivals have also proven to be popular occasions by great towers worldwide. For instance, during Chinese Spring Festival, the Burj Khalifa held a red-themed light show and Montparnasse held Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese Spring Festival activities. Some of the towers develop outdoor entertainment as unique sports activities, such as the annual international extreme sports event “KL Tower International Jump Malaysia” in Kuala Lumpur, “Color Run” and “Tower Run” in Ostankino Tower, and “Sky Marathon activity” in Sichuan broadcasting and TV station.
Graph 8 WFGT Towers Functions Distribution
3.2 Brand Influence Index
Popularity is an indicator for the collective attention paid towards the tower. It is measured by the tower’s ranking in local scenic spots and the number of times the tower has been appeared in films.
18.104.22.168 Ranking in local scenic spots
The tower’s ranking in local scenic spots (absolute value) is provided by professional tourism websites. It is the ratio of the ranking of the spot (absolute value) to the total number of local scenic spots. The smaller ratio not only means the higher ranking of the tower, but also that the city has more scenic spots.
The data shows that 8 of the 49 member towers (16% of all WFGT members) rank in the top 1% of local spots. The Eiffel Tower has the highest rank, followed by Sky Tower Auckland, CN Tower, Top of the Rock, Space Needle, Willis Tower SkyDeck, Burj Khalifa, and The Shard. Half of the towers ranks are within the top 10%, including Canton Tower, Goryokaku Tower, and TAIPEI 101. In addition, there one third of the member ranks range from top 10% to top 20%. Only one tower ranks below the top 20%.
Graph 9 Distribution of WFGT Towers’ Ranking (percentage) in its city
The higher the popularity index, the more visible the tower. 22 towers (45% of all members) have a popularity index higher than 90. Moreover, the number of the towers with a popularity index in ranges from 70 to 80 and 80 to 90, are 10 and 16 respectively. There is one tower with a score below 70.
There are 4 towers in China (including Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan) with a popularity index ranking top 20, namely, Canton Tower (10th), Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower (11th), TAIPEI 101 (14th), and Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck (18th).
Graph 10 WFGT Towers Popularity Index
22.214.171.124 The number of times the tower has appeared in films
Compared to literature and other television works, films, known as the “seventh art”, have a wider influence worldwide. They play vital roles in expanding the reputation and building brand characteristics of great towers. Released in 1933, action movie King Kong has been regarded as the first film increasing people’s awareness of towers as city landmarks.
The movie took the Empire State Building, introducing the great skyscraper to the world. From then on, the Empire State Building has been the most popular film and television shooting sites among WFGT members. 13 towers of WFGT has displayed their towers in 62 films so far. It is worth noting that 70% of the films taking Eiffel Tower as their shooting have won awards and 80% received nominations. Midnight in Paris is a good example, for it won 26 wins and 101 nominations such as from Academy Awards, Golden Globes, etc. Moreover, 23 wins and 66 nominations among them have great global influence.
Graph 11 The Number of Films on Which the Great Tower Appeared
Reputation refers to the opinions or admiration people have for the tower. It is measured by tourist reviewing index and rating index. Statistics in the report are from the most influential professional travel websites and mass media, aiming at evaluating reputation in terms of both quality and quantity.
126.96.36.199 Reviewing index
Reviewing index is the standardized number of the weighted rating volume, ranging from 60 to 100. It indicates the level of interest people have in the tower. The larger rating volume a tower has, the higher its reviewing index. There are 15 WFGT members (about 30%) with a reviewing index between 70-80. Respectively, there are 11 members ranks in the ranges of 60-70 and 90-100.
Chart 2 WFGT Towers Review Index
It is widely recognized that WFGT with high reviewing index are symbols of regional culture and spirits of the era. Besides, the great towers reputation benefits significantly from media exposure and far-reaching influence in literature and films.
Graph 12 WFGT Towers Review Index
188.8.131.52 Rating Index
Rating index is the standardized number of the weighted rating scores, ranging from 60 to 100. It indicates people’s level of favorability towards the tower. The data shows that nearly half of WFGT members have a rating index between 70-80, followed by 37% of members with a score between 80-90. About 10% of members have a score between 60-70. In addition, there are 2 towers has a score above 90, namely, One Liberty Observation Deck and Top of the Rock.
Chart 3 WFGT Towers Rating Index
WFGT members with high rating index are highly praised for their advanced facilities, comfortable interior spaces, and spectacular panoramas. Besides, well management and thoughtful service also contribute significantly.
Graph 13 WFGT Towers Rating Index
Attention refers to the media exposure of a tower. It is measured by the media index, comprising 2 dimensions: the coverage volume in professional media and mass media (both in English and Chinese). It is standardized as an index ranging from 60 to 100. The index indicates the brand impact of a tower.
The data shows that more than 40% of WFGT members have a score between 80-90. Moreover, there are 14 great towers (29% of members) in the range of 70-80. There are 8 towers (16% of members) between 60-70, and another 8 above 90.
Chart 4 WFGT Towers Media Index
Generally, towers with high scores in the media index are their city’s landmark, severing as a window of culture and history. Compared with other local buildings, they enjoy incomparable benefits and resource advantages, bringing themselves intense media exposure. In addition, buildings around the towers or observation decks contribute to gathering public interest towards them.
Graph 14 WFGT Towers Media Index
Connection refers to the frequency of occurrence of two terms from a given text. It is a ratio of the coverage volume of “Tower + city” to the coverage volume of ‘city’ in representatively professional media and mass media, indicating correlation between interest in the tower and its city. The ratio is standardized as an index ranging from 60-100. The higher the connection score means, the more intense the connection between the tower and city.
The data shows that 32 towers (65% of members) have a connection index between 60-70. 11 towers have a connection index between 70-80, and 6 are above 80.
Chart 5 Connection between WFGT Tower and City Index
Serving as the unique landmark, the tower thoroughly integrates physical and cultural characteristics of a city. With effective management, towers can be economic engines, bolstering the tourism industry and making cities more prosperous, sustainable, and inspiring. Meanwhile, the magnifying brand impact of the city also spurs growth of passage flow and income from tower-viewing.
Graph 15 Connection between WFGT Tower and City Index
3.3 Economic Performance
3.3.1 Tourist Volume
Tourist volume is the key index reflecting the popularity and economic performance of a tower. The statistics of the average annual tourist volume of the tower are derived from the official website of the WFGT, which contains the data on the number of visitors from 2013 to 2015 for 39 of the towers selected in this research. The missing data are replaced by the average value of tourist volume in other years of the tower. (Note: The following analysis is carried out between these 39 towers, excluding ten towers with missing data.)
The Eiffel Tower enjoys the highest annual average tourist volume, with up to nearly 7 million arrivals. There are 12 towers (30% of members) with an average annual tourist arrival of 1 to 5 million, namely, Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, Empire State Building, TAIPEI 101, Tokyo Tower, Burj Khalifa, Willis Tower Sky Deck, CN Tower, Canton Tower, N Seoul Tower, Berliner Fernsehturm, Space Needle, and Maine Montparnasse Tower. There are 10 towers (26% of members) with an annual average of between 500 thousand and 1 million arrivals, and 14 towers (36% of members) between 100 and 500 thousand. One tower has an annual average tourist arrival of 10 to 50 thousand, and one less than 50 thousand.
Graph 16 The Distribution of 2013-2015 Average Tourism volume of WFGT Towers
The following “WFGT Tower Tourist Volume Index” is a weighted average and standardized processing of the tourist volume data for 2015, 2014 and 2013. (Note: For details of the standardized processing of data, see Section Four, Chapter Two.) In this research, the higher the tourist volume index, the more tourist arrivals annually and the more attractive the tower is presumed to be for tourism.
The data shows that there are 10 towers (about 26% of members) with a tourist index of more than 90 points: the Eiffel Tower, Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, Empire State Building, TAIPEI 101, Tokyo Tower, Burj Khalifa, Willis Tower Sky Deck, CN Tower, Canton Tower, and Berliner Fernsehturm. A total of 17 towers (40% of members) with indexes ranging from 80 to 90 points account for the largest proportion of all sections. In addition, there are 11 towers (28% of members) with an index between 70 and 80 points, and one with an index below 70 points.
Chart 6 WFGT Towers Tourist Volume Index
The 10 towers with a tourist volume index greater than 90 points are multi-functional, and their heights are all above 300 meters. 8 of them are above 400 meters, and their high-altitude sightseeing is a unique tourism feature. In addition, these towers are distinctive and locally representative, which makes them good representations of locales in many film and television works, including high box office movies.
Graph 17 WFGT Towers Tourist Volume Index
3.3.2 Tickets Economy
For comparison purposes, data on ticket prices for each tower comes from the adult ticket price indicated on its official website. This local currency price is converted into US dollars through the latest exchange rate provided by hexun.com. The average price of the 49 towers is $18.8, and the standard deviation coefficient is 76%, indicating large variation in ticket prices between towers. The highest ticket price is approximately $103 (for the Burj Khalifa), and the lowest is Hague Tower (which is free). Ticket prices for more than half of the towers are concentrated in the range of $10 to $20.
Graph 18 WFGT Towers Ticket Price Distribution
In addition to adult tickets, most of the towers offer discounted tickets for children, students, and the elderly, as well as sightseeing packages combining different activities. For Canton Tower, different sightseeing packages are available, such as “Canton Tower Star Observation Deck & Cloud Observation Deck (433m)”, “Bubble Tram (460m)”, and “488 Lookout Deck”. In addition to sightseeing tickets, Macau Tower also offers the “VIP SkyHigh”. CN Tower offers tickets for “General Admission + SkyPod”, “SEA THE SKY Combo Ticket”, “Edge Walk”, and so on. A wide variety of sightseeing packages not only meet diverse tourist preferences, but also promote tourism income and the local economy.
Graph 19 WFGT Towers Ticket Price
3.3.3 Economic benefits brought by film and television works
As the scenes of many film and television works, towers rely on the extensive international dissemination of the former to enter the global audience's vision and attract people's attention, revitalizing their cities’ tourism economy.
Transformers: Age of Extinction, which included many Chinese scenes, was released worldwide in 2014, has earned more than $1.1 billion at the box office.
Canton Tower appeared in this film for up to 5 minutes. In the second year of the film's release, tourist arrivals to the Canton Tower reached 1.5 million, an increase of over 11% over the previous year. Transformers: Age of Extinction also brings more sustainable cultural tourism resources to Canton Tower. Employing audiences’ love for the movie, Canton Tower held thematic activity “Fantasy Kingdom” and displayed transformers made entirely according to the film’s prototype, complete with laser dance and voice programming. Tourists can experience the real scenes in the movie through this activity.
Chart 7 Global Box Office TOP10 Films
3.4 Social Responsibility
Taking advantage of the unattainable appeal of other urban buildings or attractions, towers combine modern science and technology to improve social welfare, assume social responsibility, and achieve social benefits, increasing their own reputations and media exposure in the process. For instance, Beijing Central Radio and TV Tower, and Sichuan Tower of China illuminate in blue for World Autism Day. Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower illuminates in red, symbolizing life, on World Blood donor Day. Canton Tower has 10 minutes of time set aside every night to broadcast public service advertisements. To awaken human attention to the issue of global extinction, the Empire State Building in New York projected images of endangered animals onto its surface. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was illuminated in green for the Paris Climate Change Conference. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai illuminates in pink to raise awareness about breast cancer. The CN Tower in Toronto illuminates in green to increase awareness of environmental protection in World Earth Day. Eureka Skydeck 88 in Melbourne provides venues for the charity “Batman super boss day”, which is held by a non-profit organization called “Heart Kids”. This list is not exhaustive. There are many similar activities around the world.
The Canton Tower actively participates in multiple public welfare activities, including providing venues and collecting donations for various charitable activities, projecting breastfeeding donations to treat children with severe illness, and so on. In addition, it broadcasts public service announcements such as poverty alleviation charity, national security, weather warnings, and so on. It was selected among the “Top Ten Philanthropy of Guangzhou in 2017”.