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If you look back at your last holiday trip, do you remember what drew you to it? Perhaps it was breath-taking photos of its scenery, rich culture, pleasant climate or friends’ recommendation. Whatever it was that motivated you to pack your bags and explore a new part of the world, it is likely that promotional texts and images played a significant part in your decision and planning.

The tourism industry is one of the largest in the world, accounting for over 10% of global GDP.[1] Many towns, cities, regions and even whole countries are highly dependent on income from tourism and invest a lot of time and money in promoting their destinations.

Of all marketing materials, tourist texts are perhaps most dependent on translation. This is hardly a surprise, since tourism aims to invite people from elsewhere – people who speak different languages and come from various cultures. Any company in the tourism or hospitality business understands that it is vital to present their services to as many people as possible and tailor their content to guests’ desires.

It starts with a good text

The key to creating good marketing materials in general is knowing your audience. When promoting a tourist destination or service, various groups of people will respond differently to particular offers. In terms of age, younger demographics may respond better to texts promoting active adventures, nightlife, or affordable options, while older generations may favour relaxation, gastronomy, and organised trips that free them from having to plan their own. In terms of culture, you may also wish to highlight different aspects depending on the target country. This is where a good translator, or, more specifically, localisation specialist comes in. You will want to work with someone who does not just speak the target language well, but knows or comes from the culture you are aiming to attract. The key word here is work with someone: you should incorporate your translator or language service provider (LSP) into the process of creating your materials as early as possible and work closely to tailor them to a specific audience.

Localisation is essential

Translating tourist texts word for word into ten, twenty or more different languages, trying to attract people from vastly different backgrounds to visit your destination or book your services, will simply not do. Entrusting these texts to a localisation professional is key to your success. Keep an open mind to changing the wording, writing style, and sometimes even the content itself to ensure your campaign will showcase your offers in the best possible light. The last thing you want is to fail to acknowledge and adapt to cultural nuances, driving away or even offending your target audience.

Localising can be as simple as converting currencies and units of measurement, but it also tackles more complex challenges, such as finding ways to convey meaning of words and phrases that cannot be translated literally – like fascinating local place names, gastronomy, or cultural and historical characteristics that make your destination unique. A localisation expert will also help you avoid making a faux pas, such as promoting culinary specialties with ingredients that are off limits to the target audience due to cultural or religious reasons.

Going the extra mile

In some cases, your campaigns may benefit from a step that goes even beyond localisation – transcreation. If localisation refers to making necessary changes to the text during the translation process, so that it is fully adapted to the local language and culture, transcreation takes the text to another level with a generous dose of creativity.

You will hardly find a tourist text without a slogan or innovative catchphrase that reflects the spirit of your destination and immediately catches the eye of your audience. These are often the types of texts that cannot be directly translated and need special creative treatment in the form of transcreation. Transcreators are professionals that often have a background in copywriting and marketing, as well as translation. You will benefit from integrating them into your creative process, providing regular feedback on their ideas and proposals. Especially with marketing texts for fields like tourism, it is important to view your LSP as an equal partner in the creation of your campaign to guarantee its success.

The key to translating tourist texts is understanding their essence, which is comprised of intrigue, creativity, vibrancy and passion. Someone who can grasp the message you wanted to convey will be able to take your text and transfer the same sensation into another language or culture. This will likely require a shift away from word-for-word translation into the realm of localisation or even transcreation. It is therefore important to entrust your tourist texts to a linguist or LSP who has the expertise and experience to ensure your success in foreign markets. Alamma’s team of dedicated linguists is at your disposal. Share your vision with us at and let us know how we can help you wow your guests!