The misunderstood concept of translation in tourism promotion

Mohamed Zain Sulaiman


Following the rapid growth of the tourism industry worldwide, translation has become one of the most practical means of cross-cultural tourism promotion. In fact, tourism promotional materials (TPMs) are considered one of the most translated types of texts in the world today. However, this type of translated materials has frequently been criticised for its poor standard. While several studies have addressed this issue by focusing on the textual aspects of translated TPMs, research seems to be scarce on the main agents involved in TPM translation, particularly the translation commissioner who is considered a determining factor under skopos theory. In an attempt to fill this gap, and to pave the way for the mapping of possible best practices in cross-cultural TPM production, this study explores the actual practices of TPM commissioners of a tourism authority by investigating what they deem to be the ideal scenario for the creation of effective cross-cultural TPMs and the extent to which they are able to realise this ideal scenario in the commercial world. The main source of data for this study is a semi-structured interview conducted with two experienced managers of an Australian state tourism authority directly responsible for the commissioning of cross-cultural TPMs. The investigation reveals that there is a gap between what the commissioners deem to be the ideal scenario for the production of cross-cultural TPMs and the actual practices of the commissioners due to a number of misconceptions regarding the nature of translation and the role of translators. This study argues that addressing these misconceptions has the potential to not only improve the effectiveness and efficiency of cross-cultural tourism promotion but more importantly uplift the image of the translation profession as a whole.



tourism promotional materials; translation commissioner; cross-cultural; translation misconceptions; transcreation

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