Tourism Translations: The Importance of Quality English Translations

Category: Culture

The tourism industry is arguably one of the most important sectors when it comes to flawless translations, as well as being one of the more difficult areas in which to achieve accuracy, and still successfully appeal to the target audience. While texts in hundreds of languages are translated every day in this vast field, both from and into a wide variety of different language variants, the need for English tourism translations remains a priority for most tourism-related businesses worldwide.

This has a lot to do with the status of English as a lingua franca, while it continues to have a vast number of native speakers across most continents; from the U.K, Ireland, the U.S to Australia, New Zealand, and even India, it is as widespread as it is uniquely structured in each region. English also enjoys its status as one of the most commonly used second languages of all non-native speakers. Coupled with the considerable number of regions in which it is spoken, this has given rise to ‘International English’, a non-area-specific version of the language that many non-native speakers will understand. This cements the need for top quality English translations in almost all tourism settings if a sector business is hoping to connect in any meaningful way with the maximum possible number of potential customers.


What are Tourism Translations?

Tourism translation can take almost any form. While hotels, restaurants and tourism operators naturally require their content to be translated into English to allow effective communication with prospective clients, in our modern, online world, an increasing number of businesses are also promoting their services in foreign languages to extend their customer base.

To reach out to the market, tourism businesses should have a wide range of material translated into various languages; from brochures, tourism guidebooks, leaflets, menus, posters, websites, as well as signage and even client correspondence from invoices and documents to emails. The benefits of effective communication with a target audience can make the difference between success and failure in this cut-throat industry.  

English is the most commonly required language for tourism translations, so we could be forgiven for assuming that this is an area in which mistakes are far and few between. Surely, one might think, flawless English translations come naturally, with embarrassing mistakes being far and few between? Unfortunately, the opposite is often the case with the significance of accuracy and high quality in English translations in tourism often overlooked.


Relevance and Accessibility

Anyone booking a flight with a well-known airline, or browsing hotel or holiday comparison websites will have noticed that many of the big players in tourism have invested wisely in multilingual web content, some going as far as to have dedicated URLs for each linguistic and cultural locale. Even Google has segmented their database by country, resulting in the search results for users searching through will focus on results that are more relevant to someone living in France, while or even will each display results based upon the user’s language input, and the area of the google domain the user is using. Thus, while having your business in the best position is vital for being seen by your intended target audience, good quality translation is the key to being heard.


Tone and Accuracy

Frequently, more professional businesses tend to use human translation over machine translation for their tourism-focused translations. This is the correct approach as no-one wants to hamper their business success with blocky, literal translations that are off the mark in conveying important information. How likely is an English-speaking tourist to return to a website or hotel where the information presented in English is difficult to understand?

Unfortunately, many human translations still eventually lead to the same problem by failing to reproduce the tone that a business’ original content had attempted to achieve. What might sound professional or even poetic in one language may not be usable in a similar tone in another. While meaning may be translated relatively intact, if the tone of the original is not fully conveyed, or is too strictly adhered to, this can result in unrelatable or unusual word choices. This is especially true in the case of English, which has a surprisingly wide variety of nuances affected by simple word choice.


Translation is essential for success in tourism and hospitality

Too often, hotels, tour guide businesses, restaurants, and even travel agencies rely on taking a ‘good enough’ approach to their translations. Any professional tourism company should only settle for top quality work from skilled native speakers. There are no two ways about it: your translations become your brand in the target language.

This is what determines how your prospective clients will relate to you. In order to avoid embarrassing mistakes or a miscommunicated brand message, your translation provider should be able to take what makes your business unique and then seamlessly translate and localise that to become an effective basis for marketing for each language market. English is quite possibly the most demanding language in this regard, given that it is the most universally recognisable language in both tourism and business. Native speakers are more likely to be monolingual (thus making English your only opportunity to connect with them), but they also demand only the highest standard of English in all marketing materials. While it may seem easy to translate into English yourself, the decision to use a professional translation service will ultimately have a major impact on how much your business will appeal to this lucrative demographic.

Can you afford to be off the mark?


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