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The World’s 30 Unfriendliest Cities Heading into 2024

In this article, we shall discuss the world's 30 unfriendliest cities heading into 2024. To skip our detailed analysis of the global hospitality industry in 2024, go directly and see The World's 10 Unfriendliest Cities Heading into 2024.

According to a market research report by PwC, macroeconomic headwinds and geopolitical turbulence is likely to influence the hospitality industry significantly in 2024, especially in the world's 30 unfriendliest cities. The report highlights that although leisure demand is still substantial, it has begun to wade in the last quarter of 2023, headwinds from which are likely to seep into 2024 as well. As the world continues to reopen vacation destinations in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, increases in individual business travel and group business has not taken off as expected, causing occupancy levels to decline dramatically each month since May 2023, relative to 2022 levels. Furthermore, these levels are not expected to pick up until the second quarter of 2024. Room rate growth was a significant contributor in the initial recovery of the hospitality industry in the United States but has since declined below inflationary growth levels. ADR growth, however, is expected to surge and overtake a declining inflationary curve at the beginning of 2024, despite an increase in the number of the unfriendliest cities in the world.

The report cautions that the hotel industry in the United States will be needing to navigate headwinds owing to the Fed's continued increases in its policy rate, persistent depreciation in public markets in August 2023, and more recently, the Israel-Palestine conflict, which have all directly contributed to the downstream impact on hotel demand. The Fed's fiscal policy especially has been at the root of many of these inflationary pressures with no concrete improvement expected until the second quarter of 2024. It is causing transaction activity to remain at bay until the policy is adequately adjusted meaningfully. Furthermore, as 2024 approaches, the outlook for midweek travel seems to be grim, with numerous companies announcing changes to their business travel policies in a bid to restrict corporate budgets, optimize profitability, and meet sustainability objectives. Outbound international travel is expected to continue outpacing inbound, especially in the world's 30 unfriendliest cities. With occupancy levels not showing any reason for optimism, even top players in the hotel industry like Marriot International Inc. (NYSE:MAR), Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. (NYSE:HGV), and DiamondRock Hospitality Company (NYSE:DRH) are looking entirely at ADR levels for performance gains, with an expected increase in RevPAR of 2.7% year-over-year, more than 117% of pre-pandemic levels. Nonetheless, annual occupancy is expected to rise to 63% in 2024. Average daily room rates are projected to rise by 4.5% in 2023, with resultant RevPAR up by 5.2% - more than 114% of pre-pandemic levels. You can read more on the hospitality industry in our article 30 Most Luxurious Hotels in the World.

Hospitality Industry in 2024: Key Trends

According to Forbes, consumers are likely to continue spending substantial amounts on travel in 2024 despite economic turbulence. Hence, according to the report, the travel and hospitality industries are likely to overtake pre-pandemic levels of revenue in 2024 on the backs to skyrocketing consumer demand. However, the report also cautions that though consumers are still highly inclined to travel in 2024, the hotel industry must evolve and adapt to meet new tourist expectations, optimize operational inefficiencies, navigate the labor shortage, and invest in innovative technologies to recoup revenue and maintain profitability, especially in the world's 30 unfriendliest cities. In this vein, there are numerous trends which are likely to drive the hospitality industry in 2024, one of them being that a dramatic surge in prices is likely to bring about a change in consumer behavior and expectation. As hotel room rates continue to navigate inflationary pressure and unusually high demand, the resultant sky-high prices have been one of the primary reasons for a drop in guest satisfaction in 2023. Although rising operational expenditure makes it extremely arduous for hotels to increase the financial value of a stay, companies are implementing low-cost, sustainable solutions to build the perception that guests are paying more for more benefits. Companies are investing in personalized messaging, the leveraging on consumer data, impressive promotional pricing, partnerships with local businesses to offer welcome gifts, and the implementation of local event calendars ahead of the guest's stay.

Secondly, top players in the hotel industry like Marriot International Inc. (NYSE:MAR), Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. (NYSE:HGV), and DiamondRock Hospitality Company (NYSE:DRH) are ramping up investments in optimizing self-service and mobile technology. This trend has become a hospitality mainstay after the pandemic in 2020, which encouraged mobile reservations and contactless check-ins and check-outs. Demand for such options has persisted post the pandemic and are likely to become an industry standard in 2024. Although this hardly spells any danger to front-desk service as of yet, it has been brought to light that guests prefer options. 

Lastly, according to a report by Expedia, more than seventy percent of travelers prefer more sustainable hotels and transporation. Sustainable travel has always been a source of contention for hotel companies due to higher prices and the abandonment of convenience. However, the report clearly outlines that most consumers are willing to make enormous sacrifices to meet sustainability objectives. There are a multitude of ways in which companies can demonstrate their eco-friendly commitments. As companies gear up to meet environmental standards, informed decisions are key. Many of the trends mentioned here are also correlated with trends affecting travel in 2024. You can read more on those in our coverage of the 40 Most Visited Cities in the World in 2023.

Bridging the Labor Gap: An Analysis

According to a report by McKinsey, although the tourism and hospitality industries have shown themselves to be incredibly resilient, there is a need for companies to revisit organizational fundamentals to create a sustainable future. Not only will this attract more talent into companies that are reducing hiring costs, but is also expected to bolster product portfolios, services, and processes to meet existing labor requirements. Digital innovation is on the rise and is directly contributing to customer experience across company lines. Similar to how other industries have moved away from traditional person-to-person customer interactions to digital applications, there is enormous potential within the hotel industry as well, especially to offset some of the headwinds perpetrated by the unfriendliest cities in the world. According to the report, travelers find check-in, check-out, and lengthy payment processes one of the most frustrating things about travel. These pain points, however, are not insurmountable. For example, in China, the Huazhu Hotels Group implemented a self-check-in mechanism which facilitates guests in checking in or out.

Up until now, the global hotel industry had insulated itself from global tech revolutions. With the onset of the emerging metaverse, travelers could potentially enjoy an experience from the comfort of their own homes, and save themselves the time and commitment needed to make long, exhaustive flights to other countries. However, the metaverse spells enormous threat for the hotel industry. As people continue to travel without leaving the comfort of their bed, companies like Marriot International Inc. (NYSE:MAR), Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. (NYSE:HGV), and DiamondRock Hospitality Company (NYSE:DRH) need to be adequately positioned in time to navigate the resultant headwinds and generate value, especially in the world's 30 unfriendliest cities.

World's 10 Unfriendliest Cities Heading into 2024
World's 10 Unfriendliest Cities Heading into 2024

Photo by Nathan Rogers on Unsplash

Our Methodology

To compile our list of the world's 30 unfriendliest cities heading into 2024, we decided to undertake a consensus-based approach using a diverse variety of credible sources (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). We then shortlisted more than 50 cities which appeared most frequently during our research. Since unfriendliness is an incredibly multifaceted and complex phenomenon, we established a three-pronged criteria to measure the unfriendliness of each city; the criteria is premised on the frequency of rude tourist interactions (25 points), cultural sensitivity (20 points), and crime (15 points). We then proceeded to award each city a cumulative score according to the aforementioned criteria and selected 30 cities which scored the highest points. Subsequently, we ranked each entry based on the total points scored, from lowest to highest. Where there was a tie, we broke it based on the frequency of rude tourist interactions.

Many of the cities that made our list also featured during our coverage of the 30 Rudest Cities in the World According to Reddit.

The World's 30 Unfriendliest Cities Heading into 2024

30. Cannes, France

Total Score: 23

Despite its beautiful location and picturesque scenery, many tourists consider this city to be extremely unfriendly. This is mainly because the natives are thought to be exceptionally rude and unhelpful towards tourists.  

29. Providence, USA

Total Score: 24

The locals in Providence are widely perceived to be rude towards strangers. Rhode Island, overall, has been termed as one of the rudest places in the United States.

28. Naples, Italy

Total Score: 27

Naples has an extremely high crime rate. Mostly petty crimes, like pickpocketing, take place in the city, making it difficult for tourists to explore the city with ease.  

27. Cincinnati, USA

Total Score: 27

The most common kind of crime in Cincinnati is theft and is particularly common in certain areas, especially ones that are crowded. Additionally, locals in the city are not perceived to be outwardly friendly towards non-natives. 

26. Fort Lauderdale, USA

Total Score: 28

Fort Lauderdale is widely perceived as unfriendly as many tourists report locals lacking people-skills and being unhelpful. This makes their trip extremely unpleasant. 

25. St. Louis, USA

Total Score: 30

One of the reasons why St. Louis is thought to be unfriendly is because of the exceptionally high crime rate. St. Louis was ranked the one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, as petty and violent crimes are extremely common. 

24. Xi’an, China 

Total Score: 32

Xi’an has a low crime rate; however, tourists, generally, find the locals to be extremely rude towards visitors, making Xi'an one of the world's unfriendliest cities. 

23. Nice, France 

Total Score: 33

People in France are generally known to be a little pretentious towards the tourists. This is primarily due to their lack of cultural sensitivity. Since the locals in Nice mostly speak French, they only welcome people who are fluent in the language. 

22. Milan, Italy

Total Score: 35

Milan is an extremely popular city in Italy; however, many tourists view the locals as unhelpful, reserved, and unfriendly. This makes Milan one of the unfriendliest cities heading into 2024.

21. Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Total Score: 36

Even though Buenos Aires has one of the most vibrant nightlives in the world, many tourists feel hesitant to visit the city because of the increasing crime rate. When visiting the city, tourists have to be wary of crimes like drug dealing, theft, and assault. 

20. Medellin, Colombia 

Total Score: 36

According to research, only 14% of tourists view Medellin as a friendly city. Medellin is known to be an extremely unsafe city because of the increasing crime rate, particularly drug dealing, assault, and armed robbery. 

19. Athens, Greece 

Total Score: 36

Many tourists have experienced unfriendly interactions with locals in Athens, primarily because they are extremely unhelpful. 

18. Doha, Qatar

Total Score: 37

Since Doha strictly follows religious values, it lacks cultural sensitivity. The city expects all tourists to act and dress according to the religious values set by them, making Doha one of the world's unfriendliest cities.

17. Moscow, Russia 

Total Score: 39

Moscow is known to have numerous landmarks and is very rich in culture; however, the locals are widely perceived to be unhelpful. Many tourists have reported to have encountered poor attitudes from locals. 

16. Marseilles, France 

Total Score: 41

The second-largest city in France, Marseilles, has an extremely low friendliness score. This is because tourists find the city to be unkempt and the locals to be exceptionally rude towards the visitors.

15. Los Angeles, USA

Total Score: 44

Shopping scams and taxi scams are highly prevalent in Los Angeles because of which the tourists have to be extra careful. Solo travelers find it even more difficult to travel alone around the city. 

14. New York City, USA

Total Score: 44

Even though people visit New York frequently and it is one of the most crowded cities in the world, tourists find New Yorkers to be extremely unhelpful and unfriendly, making it one of the world's unfriendliest cities.

13. Baltimore, USA

Total Score: 45

Baltimore is an unfriendly city, mainly because of its exceptionally high crime rates. Violent crime is the most predominant form of crime in Baltimore, which discourages tourists from visiting the city. 

12. Las Vegas, USA

Total Score: 47

Even though Las Vegas is a fairly safe place to travel, many tourists do not like visiting the city because locals are widely perceived to be unfriendly and rude. This may be because the locals are fairly reserved and tend to keep to themselves. 

11. Beijing, China 

Total Score: 47

Beijing lacks cultural sensitivity. One of the main crimes that tourists worry about is being subject to physical attack because of their skin color, ethnic origin, or gender. Beijing is number 11 on our list of the world's 30 unfriendliest cities.

Click here to continue reading and see The World's 10 Unfriendliest Cities Heading into 2024.   Suggested Articles:

 

Disclosure: None. The World's 30 Unfriendliest Cities Heading into 2024 is originally published on Insider Monkey.