That's a great question. I travel a lot, having almost traveled on-stop for the last several years. Often when discussing the issue of "travel sophistication" with other tourists I often hear people make the distinction that they are "travelers" as opposed to "tourists". This page has many interesting points that I think show that people who consider themselves "travelers" in some cases consider themselves superior (in travel skills) to "tourists".
That isn't terribly useful without seeing how many people who travel consider themselves travelers as opposed to tourists, although it is interesting to note.
I did find some evidence to indicate that most tourists may consider themselves superior in travel ability relative to their peers.
A study focusing on German tourists in Norway:
German tourists were divided into two groups: those who perceived
themselves as typical German tourists and those who did not. These two
groups were compared with regard to their views on the characteristics
of a typical German tourist, the activities of the two groups during
their stay, and their self-reported motives for coming. Results
indicate that while 89.5% of the respondents viewed themselves as
nontypical tourists, the two groups' views of what constituted a
typical German tourist did not differ significantly. Interestingly, the data showed no differences between the two groups with respect to their activities during their journeys or their motives for traveling to Norway.
Also of note is that a tourists self-image can be linked to and/or influenced by their choice of destination. A study looking at tourist self-image and destination brand personality found:
The results indicate that where tourists can make an association
between a destination and a destination brand personality, and where
this association is consistent with their desired holiday experience,
a high level of congruity will exist between the tourists' self-image
and their perceptions of the destination. In turn this self-congruity
was related to satisfaction with a visit to the destination but not to
intention to travel to the destination.
Personally I would not say that most tourists consider themselves more sophisticated in travel ability. In my experience that attitude seems restricted to people backpacking or taking extended (months to years) long trips, while most tourists tend to take very short trips:
the ten years between 2000 and 2010 spurred a rapid increase in travel
frequency, with the growth in short breaks not surprisingly outpacing
that of longer leisure trips. Not only did this boost domestic travel
but, at the market’s peak in 2008-2009, a significant share of
Europeans – especially those suffering time constraints – were taking
upwards of four to five foreign short breaks a year, often at the
expense of longer annual holidays.
- Source, (p12)