HERE’S a surprising prediction: China will be the world’s biggest tourism destination by 2015. Taleb Rifai, the secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), said recently that he expects China to overtake France, which is currently the top-ranked country.
“China is almost there,” Mr Rifai told Xinhua. “It is now the world’s fourth largest destination when it comes to incoming tourists, and the rates of growth are moving so quickly that we think this is a realistic target.”
Mr Rifai’s comments, though referring to 2015, appear to be based on projections that the UNWTO put together for 2020. China had almost 51m arrivals in 2009, including visitors from Hong Kong and Macau—just behind Spain and America, but still some distance from France, which welcomed 78m foreign visitors in 2008. Yet given that the numbers visiting China rose by 40m in the past decade, and the Chinese government shows no sign of losing interest in promoting tourism, it’s not hard to see the basis for the UNWTO’s projection.
This is not, moreover, a question of pure tourism. The UNWTO told me that, in general, these “tourists” actually comprise 50% holidaymakers, 30% visitors to friends and relatives, and 20% business travellers.
1.) Its not translation, its localisation
- always use local translators as they have intimate knowledge and understanding of syntax and nuances unique to each country.
- always ask for a few paragraphs of localised samples and get a real consumer to read through (corridor test). Some research spending at the start can yield greater rewards after.
2.) Engage category experts to vet content, and propose terms/phrases unique to that category. If we want to write for the experts, we need to sound like experts.
3.) Recognise country-specific differences within languages
- Hong Kong Traditional Chinese vs. Taiwan Traditional Chinese. Enough said.
- English language messages also need to be localized for countries such as Canada, the UK and Australia. That includes differences in phrasing, such as “ring me” instead of “call me” or “petrol” instead of “gas,” as well as differences in spelling.
4.) Respect Cultural Differences
- US and UK markets tend to use a more aggressive, sales-oriented approach but the style will not play well in other parts of Europe and even in Asia
- No showing of skin pictorially in conservative countries like Middle East; Patriotism and flag imagery may work well in US but not so much in Canada.
5.) A picture says a thousand words
- British customers could tell their advertising photos were of US employees, due to slight differences in clothing, such as the way a tie was knotted
- Caucasian models might not always resonate well with Asian countries, especially Japan/China