1 – Tourism


After reading The Semiotics of Tourism, find a video about tourism in Budapest from an American company or organization. Please include the link (url) in your response.

Write a short reflection.

Question: Jonathan Culler believes the “reduction of cultures” is an inevitable part of tourism. In the video you chose, what perspectives or experiences have been excluded? In your opinion, what has been left out? How does this omission shape the message? How does it influence the way Americans experience the city?

Some tourism videos (feel free to use one!):

American Airlines – Welcome to Budapest
American Airlines and Ink welcome you to Hungary’s capital, Budapest. Join Magdalena Eke and Bogi as they explore both fascinating parts of the city – Buda and Pest – and discover whether there is a difference between them, and how the two areas come together to create the unique metropolis of Budapest.

Budapest Vacation Travel Guide (expedia)
The Hungarian capital, Budapest, is situated on the banks of the Danube in Central Europe. It’s the political, economic and cultural heart of the nation, and one of the most beautiful and livable cities on the continent. For a sweeping overview of the city head to the Buda side of the Danube and take in the views from the 19th century ramparts on Gellért Hill. Just upriver is Budapest’s oldest area, The Castle District, home to Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion.

Budapest Travel Guide (Attaché and the Corinthia Hotel)
We’re back with our Budapest Travel Guide! This city is rammed full of character and stories, it was tough to fit them all into our first Hungary episode. Budapest has a fascinating history, as we discovered from our surprise guest, but is also rich with food, art, and architecture all of which make Budapest one of the most exciting places in Europe.



10 thoughts on “1 – Tourism

  1. I have chosen the last video you offered. I must say that from my point of view this video is a good guide for those who need to survive in the city 🙂 It gives a detailed information about city transport and explaines how to use it, tells us about typical Hungarian food and drinks and places where we can get it, about ruin bars which are, in my opinion, a huge part of Budapest culture. I think thie video provides quite useful, but not complete overview of the city. it does not say anything about Hungarian which is a very specific language. There is no information about Budapest sightseeings either. Very short remark about Budapest bridges (which are very beautiful indeed).
    I have been living in the city for six months already, however, I still feel like a tourists sometimes. If I had to make a video like that, I’d probably tell much more about the beauty of Budapest, about places which are “must see” and Hungarian mentality.


  2. I opted for the first video because I think that the way in which “the authors” (the extent to which they are editors with agency is, of course, another matter) structured the content or, to employ semiotic terminology, “the message.” Although Culler does not speak explicitly about the Self/Other dynamics that functions as a hermeneutic premise and allows for (self-)understanding, his text does touch on aspects of otherness and alterity; even (and especially!) within subjectivity itself when he mentions that what a tourist really needs is another tourist to recognize itself as tourist and (de)code its occupied position in the world (which is always-already a cultural context) accordingly. (I am always really happy to read about performative self-construction because it coincides with my current academic interests.) Obviously, the structure I am talking about is the Pest–Buda binary, the two “personalities” of the city, as they are called in the video, which, despite their differences can and do come together to form an “original” whole. While Pest is referred to as the city-like part of the city with its hectic and crowded streets, Buda is painted as its opposite: the village-like part of Budapest with its calmer and greener scenery. Although these quite easily decodable aspects of duality were juxtaposed, I think it was nice that they aimed to counterbalance the obvious structure by also building a system of parallels (e.g., the bars), thereby showing that difference and sameness are always a matter of cultural positionality and consensus, that is, an angle of “reading” according to which social phenomena are rendered intelligible. As a last point I would also note the usage of the words “real,” “authentic,” and “original,” which are, as Culler asserts multiple times in his text, never really real, authentic, and original in themselves; rather, they are always-already semiotically marked and culturally mediated. There really is no exit or an outside—only a room with a view. And that room is language.


  3. American Airlines – Welcome to Budapest video review

    Those who spent most of their life in Budapest, just like myself, and those who were born and raised in the capital of Hungary have an insight of the city and its people impossible to experience as an outsider, especially as a tourist. It is important to note, however, that this is not something unique regarding merely Budapest, but every city and village.
    In the promotional video of American Airlines, Budapest is introduced as a beautiful city, cut in half by the river Danube, which separates Buda and Pest. Buda is calm, green, family friendly, close to nature, peaceful, and quiet; Pest is vivid, colorful, always alive, busy, and never resting. Besides the differences, the video introduces a common thing regarding both sides of Budapest, that is its beauty and liveliness. The video perfectly fullfils the aim of advertising the city for tourists, who will probably spend just a few days, one or two weeks at most in the capital.
    However, the representation of Budapest is very idealistic and not at all realistic. American Airlines only gives an insight for the best parts of the city: the old, traditional cakeshop in Buda, and restaurant in Budapest; the dreamlike view from the Elizabeth lookout tower; the mesmerizing jacuzzi on the top of Rudas Bath; and other—by the way, really interesting and nice—places. All the places that can be seen in the video are in downtown, in one of Budapest’s best districts.
    There is no word about the outer districts, or the alleys in the city center, whose most interesting spectacle is a street dog looking for some leftovers in the trash spilled out from the dumpster that someone kicked while drunk. Obviously, this is not something that a tourist wants to see, take photos of, and tell stories about, hence it is logical that these parts were left out. For someone, however, who really wants to taste life in Budapest, these scenes should be just as important, as the flawlessly cleaned streets in the Buda Castle.
    It’s like meeting a stranger and at first only revealing the best, most interesting, and most fun side of ourselves. If that stranger becomes a permanent figure in our life, we will inevitably reveal our other, ordinary, everyday side. Same thing happens in the case of cities, therefore, in the case of Budapest: the more time one spends in it, the more truthful and wholesome their perception of the city will be.


  4. I have chosen the second video Budapest Vacation Travel Guide ( Expedia) because it shows the charm of Budapest to the whole world. This video introduces the city in a fascinating way which grabs the spectators’ attention and invites them to visit it. The camera movements are so important in making things interesting and fascinating. Here, The architecture in Budapest with the various lighting techniques make it exotic as if you are in a fairy tale story or a magic city. Buildings like The Parliament, The Freshman’s Bastian, Budapest Castle, The Basilica, Matthias Church, and Heroes Square bring about the history of the country in different historical periods for the Roman, the Turks, and the Russians. Moreover, this video gives a glimpse of the most famous thermal baths in Budapest built by the Ottoman Empire and made the city a touristic place for those who want to enjoy thermal baths. The stories and the music within the video presented the background of Budapest historical monuments which is asource of pride.
    Though it seems that this video gave a variety of great places to visit in Budapest, however, it neglected many of its aspects. It did not mention the city’s famous dishes or the Hungarian traditional clothes. The video did not mention possible activities that you can do in Budapest like hiking, skating, boat tours…etc. added to that, Margit Island, a small island in the Danube river, was absent in the video. It is one of the beautiful places that people should definitely visit. I have been in Budapest for six months, and It is the first time when I enjoy autumn which added beauty and colors to this exotic city. There is a different Budapest in each season and I am looking forward to enjoy Budapest in Spring!


  5. I chose the last video you shared. As a non-local myself, I find the information provided in the video useful and helpful because it offers broad information about the city and the practical things like the access to airport shuttle transport, local transportation, and low-cost traditional food in the city. It also does not leave out the history of some places in Budapest which, according to me, would make people more attracted to travel to Budapest. One thing future travelers can be sure about after watching this video is that they will not get broke from enjoying the beauty of the whole city and visiting its top attractions because, according to my own experiences being a newcomer and temporary resident in Budapest, the prices for almost every stuff in Budapest are very tourist friendly compared to that of other cities in Europe. The video also offers interesting city sky picture which adds the beauty of the city. However, this travel guide lacks closer looks at the attractive architecture of city buildings’, typical European lanes, and green spaces—yes, Budapest has a bunch of beautiful gardens as well! At a glance of the video, the impression people would get might be that Budapest is just another busy city in Europe—it is certainly not. I would suggest to provide closer looks/pictures at the top attractions of the city as well as the classic architecture of the buildings in Budapest.


  6. Budapest Vacation Travel Guide (expedia)

    This video captures the beauty of Budapest in a very professional, picturesque way. In fact, the video consists of a series of breathtaking shots of the various sights of the city. It provides a surprisingly detailed and precise overview of the country’s history and the peculiarizes of the various sights, streets, districts etc. However, I feel like this might be one of the weak points of the video.
    Even though it is entitled “Budapest Vacation Travel Guide”, I am not sure whether a tourist, looking for a vacation destination is interested in historical facts, dates to such an extent. Even though the video is visually extremely appealing, the content might get somewhat boring overtime. In many ways, it manages to capture the unique sights of Budapest, while providing exceptionally detailed background information. I feel like the video aims to depict Budapest in a particularly lofty, sophisticated way. Nevertheless, for me personally, tiny cafes, ruin bars, and public transport (😊) are cornerstones of the “Budapest atmosphere” as well.
    However, it can be assumed that the objective was to target a specific type of tourists. For those who are particularly interested in history, and want to visit the city in order to gain a better understanding of the culture, this video will definitely be appealing.


  7. I have chosen “Beautiful Budapest”, a 1938 short film featured in the MGM series “Fitzpatrick’s Traveltalks”. Since I am fascinated with old photos and footage of cities, I found this Technicolor film especially interesting, not only on its own, but compared to modern tourism videos on Budapest as well. When analyzed together, for example, with the Expedia video, several similarities, such as the focus on history and the representative sights, can be noticed in their structure, which is thought-provoking if we consider the nearly 80 years that passed between the two movies. However, I would like to focus on “Beautiful Budapest” in this short analysis.

    Apart from a few elements, the film is almost timeless. It provides a detailed historical overview, countless beautiful shots of Budapest and some elements of the Hungarian culture that make the country identifiable. The historical overview is of adequate length—i.e. not too boring—, but it also gives off the impression to the American viewer that Hungary has a rich and long history. The shots of the city are natural and not staged, presenting the city in a welcoming, but not too polished way. The spa scene is especially authentic. The cultural aspects in the film can be noticed in the background music (for example, “The Blue Danube” which is often associated with Budapest, and “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” by Franz Liszt), and in the spa and restaurant scenes. However, while the latter presents Hungarian hospitality, it does not mention anything about famous Hungarian dishes, which is definitely unfortunate.

    Since the film was made such a long time ago, the modern viewer—especially if they are from Budapest— may notice several changes. Naturally, fashion and cars, for example, have changed a lot since 1938, but I think the most interesting changes are provided by the buildings. It is at the same time amusing and sad to point out the old Elisabeth Bridge that was destroyed during the German occupation of Budapest, and the renovated Parliament Building.

    The only aspect I miss from this film is the Hungarian language. It is such a unique and important element of the Hungarian identity; it could have been mentioned at least in a few sentences. However, I feel like “Beautiful Budapest” is an interesting, charming work that I would have enjoyed if I had been an American viewer in 1938.


  8. I have chosen the second video because it is an excellent example of a tourist guide. When a tourist comes to any country or any city nowadays even in the past, he/she cares about taking the perfect photograph of the country from the place that offers the best view, and the video offers two suggestions, either you climb the Citadella, or you go to the top of Buda Castle. Furthermore, it provides accurate geographical information because most of the people think that Hungary is located in eastern Europe, but it is in central Europe as it was mentioned in the video.
    Also, it mentions the landmarks of the pearl of the Danube (Budapest) .For Example, Matthias Church, the Hungarian parliament, heroes square, iron shoes, the thermal paths, Fisherman’s Bastion were mentioned. Furthermore, it provides historical information about some of the monuments in the city, and it provides enough information about the well-known museums in the city. It’s a perfect video from historical, touristic, and aesthetic perspectives, but it lacks the social and the linguistic perspective.


  9. First video: “American Airlines – Welcome to Budapest”

    This video’s guides are Hungarian women – they give a sense of authenticity to video, that tourists seek, as Culler himself points it out. They also omit the iconic markers of Budapest: Heroes Square, Buda Castle, the Parliament. While the Chain Bridge and the Citadella are included in the birds-eye shots, they are not named and neither of the guides talk about it. I felt like they focus on the atmosphere that tourists come for instead of the iconic sites, with a few exceptions. They give a guide for the tourists who do not want to be “touristy”, who want the “authentic experience” of the city. The inclusion of the coffee being a must on busy workdays evoke that kind of authenticity that belongs to the residents, and I think so do the vintage shops shown in the video. I am not a native of Budapest and I still do not reside here, so those were a surprise for me, because while I pass some of those shops in my daily comings and goings, I do not have the experience of leisurely shopping in them. I think their recommendation also contain a class marker, aiming the video towards an audience who can walk and shop around: the intercontinental tourist probably has both the time and the money to do so. (The inclusion of the street art was really exciting for me – I think that greatly characterizes a city and I have not seen any promotional material that focuses on the street art of Budapest before!)
    I like the video a lot because it really shows the atmosphere of Budapest and possible activities, instead iconic signs that signify Budapest, but I think especially because those signify the city, it feels awkward to ignore those to this extent in an image-video about the city. It also definitely excludes outer districts and anything that would depict lower-class residents, but that can be expected from a promotional video.


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