“But imagery of the dominant city still permeates urban representations. Postcards of city views replicate an idealised city that bears little relation to the everyday experiences of its dwellers.” (Miles 2002; p.129)
Yet the whole process of being a tourist is different from that of the inhabitant who works and occupies that space rather than the tourist who is looking for a fantasy escape from work and regular everyday occupations of space. If these two experiences of a place are therefore fundamentally different – is there such a thing as a ‘true genuine’ experience.7 The way the tourist and the local resident views a city is often in different terms, the local is focused on the modernity of the city, its ability to propel them into the future, to be in sync with the times. The tourist however is interested in slowing down time, in dwelling in the past and history of a place.8
The tourist is also more likely to pay attention to some of the details of a city, they are observing it closely, as that is what they are there to see. The local may instead merely be passing through, oblivious to aspects of its structure. So it is curious that the tourist is apparently only interested in the icons that attracted them to visit that city; they may certainly be gazing upon a collection of iconic symbols as Urry suggests but they are also likely to notice and appreciate other things that they did not come expecting to see, but encountered none the less.
Different people experience the city in different ways depending on what function the city plays for them. Whether it is tourist attraction or local habitat, the city takes on a particular significance to that person. When constructing images of the city we should be aware of both viewpoints and experiences and evoke the balance of the city that lies between both ideas.
7. Alternatively, some places exist solely because tourism alone maintains them. Despite any hostility locals feel about an invasion of tourists, the “Visitors are in a sense as much local as are ‘real’ locals.” Urry, J. (1995). Consuming Places. p.166
8. “Some spaces… only exist for locals because of the particular emphasis on being modern, being up-to-date, being almost ahead of time; and second, that some tourists increasingly wish to slow down time, to participate in sustainable or responsible tourism, which may not be the kind of time that locals feel is their time.” Urry, J. (1995). Consuming Places. p.166