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Translating tourism content: the key to bringing back global travelers

The pandemic impacted every business sector, particularly tourism. Concerns about spreading COVID, coupled with travel restrictions, has made travel to and from the U.S. and Canada difficult, if not impossible.

Travel restrictions remain in many parts of the world. Even where travel is allowed, you may still face requirements regarding testing, wearing masks and other rules intended to prevent transmission. It will take a while before travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, and before travelers are ready to return to North American, but one thing is certain – it’s still a top destination.

We all dream of our next trip, that ideal destination where we can relax and unwind. Many of these bucket-list destinations are located in North America. What better way to entice global travelers to visit your destination when the time comes than by marketing to them now… in their own languages?


Why is communicating only in English not enough?

It’s a mistake to assume that all tourists or travelers speak English fluently. It’s even less likely they’ll make travel decisions based on materials available in English only.

Think back to the last time you traveled overseas. If you wanted to spend a week in Paris, did you read travel brochures in French, or make hotel reservations on a French-language website? Probably not. It’s more likely you sought out content in English.

Tourists from other countries will do the same thing: they’ll read websites and marketing materials in their primary languages. To catch their eyes, make sure your content is available in these languages.

The next question is, which language(s)? It depends on several factors: which languages previous visitors have spoken; which regions/countries you’re targeting, which languages are most commonly spoken…

If you’re only targeting European travelers, there’s no need to translate into Chinese. However, if you notice you’re attracting more visitors from South America, it makes sense to translate your materials into Spanish and Portuguese.

Even if your destination attracts a wide global clientele, and you’re interested in reaching everyone in the world, it can be costly and time-consuming to translate into every language. Instead, focus on a short list of languages that will attract the broadest target market.

New York City already does this. As a multilingual city and one of the top destinations for international travelers, it made its visitors information available in multiple languages. Its travel website is available in five languages, and its Explorer Pass landing page is available in seven.


Why do you need a translation professional to translate tourism content?

Once you decide to translate your content, it’s important to do it the right way, e.g. using a professional translator.

You may think any translation is better than no translation at all and put your copy through an off-the-shelf translation tool. In fact, a poor translation may do more damage to your brand than none at all. Here’s why…

First, bad translations have a way of spreading quickly across the web – enter “translation fails” into a search engine and hundreds of lists will appear (including ours). At best, they’re laughable and look careless. At worst, they may scare away potential visitors. Either way, it can take a while for your brand to recover and attract visitors instead of laughs.

Second, a good translation incorporates both the language of the target market and its cultural sensibilities. If you want to attract visitors from Spain, it’s important to craft the offer, idioms and slang to fit what types of offers or turns of phrase would attract people living in Spain.

A generic translation solution won’t know these differences, but a professional translator will.

World travelers will eventually start visiting their favorite tourist attractions again. If you want yours to be one of them, start translating your content now.

To learn more about our solutions for the travel and tourism sector, click here.


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