AI Reimagines Top City Breaks According to Their Stereotypes

In the age of social media, the romanticised expectations placed on dream destinations may not match up to reality. Paris, Europe’s most popular city break, has made headlines for this phenomenon, dubbed ‘Paris Syndrome,’ where visitors feel disappointed or even shocked by their experiences.

But it’s not just travellers who are affected by romanticised ideals of destinations. Long-brewing tensions between locals and tourists have been erupting this year, with protests breaking out across some of the world’s most popular tourist hotspots in response to overtourism, which has largely been perpetuated through irresponsible peddling on social media channels. The result has given some locals a negative opinion of the place they live, whether fair or not.

To shed light on the issue and showcase the staggering difference between local and world stereotypes, leading tour comparison site TourScanner used AI to examine how local residents and global travellers perceive top city break destinations.

When asked to share a stereotypical local view of Los Angeles, AI closely associated Tinseltown with Hollywood and celebrities. Los Angeles is home to 212,100 millionaires and 43 billionaires (as of 2023), ranking third place as the US city with the highest concentration of high-net-worth individuals. So, it’s no surprise that both locals and visitors associate Los Angeles with wealth. 

However, traffic is also a common complaint among Angelenos. According to recent studies, greater Los Angeles is the slowest metropolitan region in the US, with residents wasting over 86 hours on average stuck in traffic during peak travel times.

When comparing this to the stereotypes held by the rest of the world, many associate Los Angeles with the ideals of the American dream, as exemplified by homeownership, family and community, as well as having a luxury lifestyle. Its typically beachy aesthetic and atmosphere also naturally draw in tourists.

With Paris given the moniker ‘The City of Love’, it’s no surprise international travellers expect the city to be a romantic hub of café culture, with plenty of picturesque historical landmarks to visit. The city is so famous for evoking an image of romance that it’s estimated one in 679 proposals occur at the Eiffel Tower.

However, according to locals, Paris is a far cry from the romantic destination the rest of the world believes it to be. Parisians consider the city busy and stressful thanks to being overrun by tourists. According to recent studies, Paris is the world’s most over-touristed destination, with 86.7 million visitors arriving each year, prompting the French government to increase tourist taxes by 200 percent for 2024.

According to tourists, Venice is not only a romantic destination, but its dramatic architecture and iconic waterways make it the perfect backdrop for major motion pictures. Action-packed movies such as James Bond’s Casino Royale (2006)The Italian Job (2003) and The Tourist (2010) have all used Venice’s canals as a key filming location.

But despite global fascination with Venice, locals are far more concerned with overtourism and the threat to the city’s sinking structure. With Venice currently sinking on average two millimetres per year, reports indicate that Venice could be underwater as early as 2100.

Commonly dubbed ‘the Paris of South America’, world travellers typically associate Argentina’s capital with striking architecture and laissez-faire café culture. Not only do both Paris and Buenos Aires share similar architectural stylings but, much like ‘The City of Love’, Buenos Aires is synonymous with passion, as rooted in the tango dance.

Contrary to the global perception, Buenos Aires locals paint a different picture of their city, one that diverges from the laissez-faire stereotype. Instead, they depict a bustling metropolis marked by its fast-paced rhythm, where heavy traffic and pollution stand out as common grievances.

Home to a number of historic ruins including the Roman Colosseum, named one of the seven wonders of the world, it’s no surprise holidaymakers think of Rome as the symbol of civilisation and an education hub. However, it’s not just the city’s history that inspires tourists to visit, but also the romantic, Italian lifestyle of appreciating good food and drink with loved ones.

But it’s exactly for these reasons that locals consider Rome to be too touristy. While international travellers may envision relaxing among stunning ruins, locals are concerned about the chaotic nature of sightseers as well as the traffic they incur. Approximately 10 million tourists visit Rome every year, making it the second most-visited city in Europe.

Guillaume Picard, Co-Founder of TourScanner, commented: 

“When booking a city break, it’s not uncommon for travellers’ expectations to be shaped by romanticised narratives and glossy portrayals, as our study demonstrates. But often, this can lead to disappointment or worse, tourists being wilfully ignorant of the important issues locals are facing.

“On the other hand, locals have a far harsher opinion of their cities and may be too quick to overlook the beauty that draws in tourists.

“While every city boasts its own set of positives and negatives, maintaining an open mind about the realities of each destination can foster a more enriching and respectful travel experience.”

You can view the full study here.

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