Arlington scoffs at study that ranks city as rudest to tourists

A study based on a handful of tweets says Arlington, home to AT&T Stadium, is rude to tourists. Arlington officials laughed at the study.
A study based on a handful of tweets says Arlington, home to AT&T Stadium, is rude to tourists. Arlington officials laughed at the study. Star-Telegram archives

Arlington hates its tourists more than any other city, if you believe a handful of tweets.

Arlington officials do not.

They defended their city Tuesday after Florida-based Stratos Jet Charters Inc. posted an analysis of negative and positive tweets from residents about tourists who are visiting their cities.

Arlington was No. 1 in the study’s Top 10 Tourist-Hating Cities, ahead of New York City and Las Vegas.

Arlington? A city that has called itself a tourist destination since the opening of Six Flags Over Texas in the 1960s? A place that’s home to the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys?

“I don’t believe that at all,” Mayor Jeff Williams said. “I’ve lived in Arlington 30 years, and I can’t tell you the number of compliments we get from the hospitality of our citizens and our tourism partners, the city staff, policemen and firemen, all the way down. That would not happen if we did not treat them well.”

If you need more proof, said Jay Warren, the city’s marketing communications manager, look at how residents have backed tourism-related projects with their pocketbooks.

“Arlington loves tourists, as evidenced by multiple bond referendums that have been passed over multiple years that have financed major world-class iconic stadiums and helped create one of the nation’s premier entertainment districts,” Warren said. The study, he said, “made us chuckle because it’s so patently inaccurate.”

To be fair, Stratos didn’t pretend to have a Gallup Poll on its hands. Its staff used 37,171 geographically tagged tweets from June 1, 2014, to July 20, 2015, that contained some form of tourist, and cross-checked them with terms like leave, go home, get out, don’t stay and I live here.

“We ran the tweets through the AlchemyAPI sentiment analysis to determine how positive or negative each city’s and state’s tourist-related tweets were,” the study report said.

The staff compared 26 cities that had at least 100 tweets, and all states. But not all states had at least 100 tweets, so the threshold was lowered to 30 tweets.

That’s right, 30.

Consider that Twitter averages 58 million tweets per day, and you can see why Arlington officials are laughing.

“Honestly, if you look at it, you can see it’s meant to be something that’s obviously funny,” said Decima Cooper, senior director for marketing and public relations for the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau. “A study isn’t based on 30 tweets. So it’s very unscientific.”

Scientific might be a relative term for some. The study also listed the Top 10 Tourist-Loving Cities, in order, as Chicago; Atlanta; Philadelphia; Miami; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; Houston; Paradise, Nev.; and Nashville.

Those trailing Arlington, in order, were New York City; Las Vegas; Boston; New Orleans; Orlando, Fla.; Greensboro, N.C.; Phoenix; Los Angeles; and San Francisco.

The New York Post was upbeat about its hometown’s No. 2 ranking, topping its story with the headline: “This Southern city is actually ruder than New York.”

The lead of the story: “New Yorkers may be rude to tourists, but at least we aren’t the worst. Big Apple residents are only No. 2 in rudeness, taking a back seat to the citizens of Arlington, Texas, according to a puzzling nationwide study.”

Robert Cadwallader: 817-390-7186, @Kaddmann