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The challenges of attracting international tourists to the Far East and the role of translation

The challenges of attracting western tourists to the Far East and the role of translation [Photo: iStock/pat138241]
in Travel and Tourism

Being able to communicate with customers in their own language is a huge challenge for any company that is selling cross-border, be it through online sales, business deals or selling holidays to tourists from across the globe. 

According to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review, nearly three-quarters of people who are using the internet will stick steadfastly to websites that speak their language, while 72 per cent said that they will only make a purchase when it comes to online transactions if they have been able to get the information they seek in their own language beforehand. 

This is important for all businesses, but more so than most when it comes to the travel and tourism sector, where as many as 43 per cent of all holidays are now booked online, and language is very important. In tourism, getting someone to buy is about more than simply telling them information. It's about selling your brand to them, giving them an emotive reason to get on board and evoking the image of their holiday in the traveller with words alone. 

This can be particularly challenging when it comes to translation, especially in Far Eastern nations, where it can be difficult enough to translate accurately, but even harder to bring an idea and emotion to life when going from one language to another.

But it is still vitally important. After all, Harvard Business Review suggests that as many as 50 per cent of people say language is the most important issue for them when it comes to deciding to make a purchase, even more than price. 

Tourism in the Far East

The above considerations have become more important than ever in the Far East in recent years as the spread across the world of their popularity as holiday destinations has climbed markedly. It used to be the case that the majority of people visiting China, Japan, and South Korea would be those from Asia and Australia, but in the last decade or so, there has been a far wider demographic of people heading to the Far East on breaks.

For example, China now welcomes as many as 26 million foreign tourists every year, and although this is still lower than its domestic tourism trade, it represents a far higher number than we've seen in the past. 

In Japan, the climb is even faster than in China. Japanese inbound tourism from overseas is expected, according to official data, is expected to climb to more than 21 million this year, with a year-to-date increase of some 19 per cent already recorded as of the end of September. 

And it's a similar story in South Korea, where 2015 saw as many as 13 million people come to visit the country from overseas. This marked growth of as much as five million when compared to 2010, showing a marked increase in the space of just a few short years. 

What this data indicates is that tourism from overseas is now more important to the economies of these Far Eastern countries than ever before. What perhaps used to be something of an afterthought thanks to the relatively small number of tourists being welcomed has now become vital as the tourism sector becomes a bigger industry in each nation. 

This means that translation of marketing messages, tourism sites and other information pages online needs to be effective in ensuring that people are attracted to come to destinations in the Far East, helping to push forward the sector in each of these key nations. 

If translation of marketing materials and advertisements is not done correctly, then tourism companies risk alienating potential customers and leaving themselves experiencing declines for years to come. 

Marketing translation and variety

One of the most challenging hurdles faced with regards to the translation of materials in the travel and tourism sector is that there's a great deal of variety involved. As mentioned above, people tend to do business when they are given information in their own language. And for tourism companies in the Far East, the sheer spread of visitors from different countries, all speaking different languages, means that they need to be able to execute effective, emotive messages that work and entice travellers in more than one language. 

For example, Japan now welcomes thousands of tourists every month from Europe, but this is spread across a number of nations, including the UK, France, Germany, and Russia, all of which will have buyers who expect to be spoken to in different languages. 

It's, therefore, essential that there is a uniform message across the board that relays the same exciting and emotive information, but in a number of dialects. This means being able to retain everything that makes a travel brand what it is, without losing any of the meanings behind messages, but while speaking to people all over the world. 

This can mean there is a real need to work with a team of expert translators who can work together to create a whole marketing package that speaks to tourists across the western world. By collaborating on things like marketing copywriting, website optimisation and promotional campaigns in their own dedicated languages, a team of translation experts can perfectly create a solution that speaks to people in the right way and ensures the best chance of success for tourism companies from across the world.

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