Language illiterate English tourists targeted with inflated holiday packages

21st Nov 2005

British tourists planning holidays abroad this Christmas are seen
as easy prey for higher priced package tours by foreign travel operators. The lack
of language skills means Brits, as opposed to multi-lingual Europeans, are generally
unable to negotiate better deals, or research beyond English web sites.

This is leading to a class split between English tourists who are ‘herded along the
tourist trail’ and are ‘ripped off and preyed upon’, and European travellers who
receive superior treatment and lower prices.

According to research from translation software company Translution:

á      Nearly half (45%) of British tourists who travel to non-English speaking countries
feel they are preyed upon by tourist companies who take advantage of their lack of

á      Two thirds (67%) are herded to popular ‘English’ tourist sites and are unable to
leave the tourist trail

á      Three quarters (76%) miss out on interesting places and better deals because they
only speak English

á      Around half (45%) accept that getting ripped off is part of the deal, and they can
do nothing about it

Multi-lingual tourists on the other hand find it ‘easy to get off the tourist
trail,’ ‘get a better deal’ and are ‘able to find new and interesting places not
normally available to tourists’. While English dominates in business, the ability to
speak languages other than English is the key to unlocking hidden information,
activities and deals, according to Ted Marshall, Managing Director of Translution,
the company behind the research.

“There is an overwhelming perception amongst the survey respondents that many
websites and tourist operators still reserve their best offers for non-English
speakers,” Mr Marshall said.


“Rather than the dodgy few, it is now the norm for tour operators to overcharge
English speakers just to be herded along the tourist trails, while other tourists
are free to enjoy hidden pleasures at a better price. Britons would be shocked by
the additional information and better pricing that is available if they could pose
as a multi-lingual tourist and understand non-English websites,” he said.

With the majority of holiday research and booking undertaken online (68 per cent),
Translution’s software provides the ability to translate web pages, emails, Word
documents and attachments at the touch of a button. It integrates with Microsoft
Outlook email, Internet Explorer web browser, and Microsoft Word processor, so
translations all happen seamlessly, with no cutting, pasting or opening and closing
of windows.

The language barrier not only gave Brits a raw deal, it was also the cause of untold
holiday mishaps, for instance:

á      Half the regular travellers surveyed ordered something they didn’t want or
couldn’t eat in a foreign restaurant because they couldn’t understand the menu

á      One if (in) five (22%) missed a train, plane, taxi because of misunderstanding the

á      51% act offensively because of ignorance of the local culture


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