The Art of Translating for the Tourism Sector

It’s official, France is the #1 destination for tourists with more than 84 million people visiting the country in 2013. They’re mostly from Germany, the UK, the US and China. Therefore, offering multilingual content is necessary to properly welcome these numerous international guests. So, if you’re still unsure about your areas of expertise, here’s a sector you should consider. However, translating touristic texts isn’t as easy as it may sound.

In fact, it is a very demanding task involving various notions: translation, localisation, transcreation and adaptation, as explained in this academic paper on quality in the translation of tourist discourse on the Web, by Patrizia Pierini, published in the Journal of Specialised Translation.

Translation is in high demand in this industry, and it includes a wide range of content –  1362514234xwt2dinformational, promotional, commercial. Depending on the aim and scope of the material, a translator has to apply the proper strategy to ensure that it has the same effect on the target audience as the source text did on the original audience. And in order to achieve just that, there is no such thing as a standard procedure; and the exact purpose of the communication strategy has to be clearly established by the client so that the translator can take the proper decisions. He/she may need to adapt/localise the text – changing currencies, dates, the measurement system (metric, imperial) – but also ensure the proper tone is applied (depending on the target culture, the source text may be considered too straightforward and aggressive, requiring an important stylistic realignement).

The ultimate goal is to create the same effect on the reader – persuasion – in order to enhance the client’s conversion rate and turn readers into paying customers. In that regard, Pierini mentioned the AIDA approach ⎯ capture Attention, create Interest, increase Desire and motivate to Action.

Every translator working on this type of content has to constantly keep in mind the socio-psychological needs of the potential tourist. One has to strive for a translation that sounds like an original text, not a translation. And that’s why clients need to think local. Indeed, for a touristic text to be persuasive, it has to be relevant to the target audience, not foreign. And only a native has the extensive knowledge needed to convey accurately every nuance and localise appropriately.

Localisation – What does that mean? Pierini gives a compelling answer:

Localisation involves taking a product and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target locale (country/region and language) where it will be used and sold. For example, the French spoken in Canada is a different locale to the French spoken in France.

According to a recent survey by TextMaster, mistakes and errors in translation account for a loss of about €120 million each year. So, a competent translator with excellent writing skills can seriously consider this sector a viable option!

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