Translating tourism promotional materials: a cultural-conceptual model



As the tourism industry continues to grow globally, tourism promotional materials (TPMs) are becoming one of the most translated materials in the world. Nevertheless, despite the high demand, this type of translated material has been the subject of criticism over the past four decades. Although culture, or rather cultural differences, have been identified as the main reason behind the failure of translations in the tourism industry, no straightforward solution to dealing with the problem has been found. In an attempt to address this shortcoming, this paper proposes a Cultural-Conceptual Translation (CCT) model, which leverages two key notions: cultural conceptualisation and destination image. Cultural conceptualisation, which is drawn from cultural linguistics, is a key manifestation of the oft-overlooked ‘silent’ or ‘unconscious’ level of culture, while the notion of destination image, which is drawn from tourism studies, has been identified as a crucial element in tourism promotion and advertising. We argue that the effectiveness of TPM translations relies on the (re)construction of ‘favourable’ destination images based on the cultural conceptualisation of the target audience. The viability and effectiveness of this model within the context of the commercial world of international tourism has been tested on TPM end-users through focus groups, and on TPM translation commissioners through a pilot project in which a TPM was translated from English to Malay. The results of the ‘road test’ were very positive, suggesting that applying the CCT model has the potential to improve translation outcomes in the area of tourism promotion.