Translation in the tourism industry

tourism translation

As an avid travel and a language enthusiast, translation in the tourism industry has always been of particular interest to me. Whether we are talking about menus in popular eateries or factual information written at top landmarks, I cannot help comparing the translations and thinking, what could I have done better.

Tourism is one of Spain´s largest sources of income and it is important to take into consideration that a high quality translation can speak words to potential customers when it comes to choosing where to eat, sleep and what to do on their holidays.

Speaking as both a tourist and a translator, there is nothing worse than a bad translation and many businesses perhaps don´t realise the damage it is doing to their businesses. Below I would like to discuss many of the types of texts we translate for tourists, our quality control procedures and key factors to take into account when translating these types of documents.

tourism translation

Translation for tourism covers endless fields, and can often overlap with other areas of specialised translation, however general speaking these are several main texts which we deal with.

Websites: Website translation and localisation for tourists is a very common request, especially for hotels, local restaurants and even for the local city council. A well-presented website, translated into perfect English and furthermore localised to their culture can attract millions of customers before they even arrive. Websites that are redacted poorly in English and that only include half the information that is available on the Spanish version do not tend to lure many English-speaking holiday goers to their facilities. Those however, with an abundance of information in friendly and welcoming English regarding the rooms, rates and services right down to their hotel blog and booking email and form plus a catchy header for their opening page, are often fully booked from May right through until September.

Menus: The translation of a menus into a tourist´s native language, but moreover, using words and perhaps even explanations to ensure they fully understand the food on offer, makes a huge difference for holiday goers when choosing a place to eat. Tourists may pass by a restaurant that offers “chicken tears” (lagrimitas de pollo) and instead decide to savour the local delicacy at the restaurant next door which offers “delicious crispy strips of fried chicken”.

Leaflets: The translation of information leaflets for points of interests such as museums, landmarks, cathedrals and churches, parks etc., often comprises a technical translation due to the specific and detailed information that is often given. One of the main challenges a translator may come up against in a touristic translation such as this, is whether or not to translate the names of places and points of interests. The “Reales Alcázares de Sevilla” may not say anything to a tourist recently arrived from Australia, with no idea whatsoever of Spanish, whereas “The Gardens of the Royal Alzacar Palace” explain the purpose of the place and inform the tourist what they are going to see on a whole new level.

From the above examples I have given (out of an endless list) you can see the importance of the translation of tourist texts for local businesses and holiday destinations to promote their services and make themselves known in the world beyond Spain. The mere fact that the information is provided in a clear and understandable way in another language shows you care about your customers and want to offer a tailor-made service and thus attracts a much larger clientele.

Speaking from experience, tourists always appreciate the effort made when information is provided to them in a way they can relate to, in words that make them feel at home. In this way, they are able to enjoy their holiday and not worry about getting lost in translation.

Sobre Carolina Balsa Cirrito 157 Artículos
Gerente - Directora. Licenciada en Traducción e Interpretación por la Universidad de Granada.

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