International Tourism in the US Is Growing: Are You Ready for It?

When it comes to global growth, most companies think abroad and what they can do outside their borders to enhance their reputation, target ideal consumers, and ensure their marketing content is effectively localized.

But international tourism in the US is also on the rise, prompting an influx of foreign visitors eager to experience American culture and spend their euros, renminbis, and, name-your-currencies in the country.

According to the Baltimore Sun, BWI Thurgood Marhsall Airport is considering a $250-million expansion to account for last year’s 13.5-percent jump in overseas flights, while Washington Dulles International Airport is enjoying its 11th straight year of inbound international growth; 7.1 million out-of-country passengers passed through the facility last year alone.

The United States is also reaching out to tourists in nearby Cuba. With the trade embargo finally lifted, the Sun Suntinel reports that ferry service will run between Florida and Cuba for the first time in over 50 years to tap this new market. And per Travel Weekly, the public-private partnership of Brand USA has just unveiled its new “Flavours of the USA” campaign, which includes culinary-inspired US travel itineraries along with calendars of food festival dates and recipes of regional cuisine. With American chefs gaining popularity on the world stage, this is no surprise. Tourists coming to the United States are now looking to see more than just the White House and Empire State Building.

The question is: Are you ready to cash in on this trend?

What Do International Tourists Want?

It depends on where they’re from, but translation needs to be a given. Just as it’s important to translate and localize content overseas, it’s crucial to localize content that can potentially bring tourists to the United States—and cultural sensitivity is key to attracting new business.

Consider the emerging Chinese middle class: These tourists are willing and ready to spend money in other countries, but want a different experience than English-speaking visitors from Canada or Britain. Although they enjoy outdoor activities such as fishing, for example, they want the hook baited, line thrown, and a fish already latched on before they take over and reel one in. And they’re not much for frying dinner over a campfire; food is best cooked and served by professionals.

Japanese tourists, meanwhile, want to know what they’re buying before they ever set foot in the United States, meaning companies must take the time to create Japanese-language web resources that provide a high level of detail. These tourists also expect high-quality, speedy, and polite service during their stay, because this is common practice in Japan. And although they may not complain at the time, they can make or break your brand once they return home and share their experience with friends and family.

Indian tourists are in the market for more adventure-driven experiences as well, but they, too, deserve the comfort of knowing where nearby Indian and vegetarian restaurants are located.

Start with Translation

Several countries are collectively driving the bulk of this international tourism in the US. Mexico and Canada continue to hold the top two spots, but by 2019, reports the International Trade Administration, China will move to third place. Countries like Colombia and India are set to follow, on-track for 72 percent and 47 percent inbound tourist growth, respectively.

What does this mean for US companies looking to grab tourist attention? That reputation-building starts before a traveler even leaves his or her country or books the trip. To realize international customers, tourist websites shouldn’t just describe their efforts to accomodate their cultural preferences, but also translate travel website content into their native languages. In other words, English-only sites or those that leverage poor-quality, low-cost machine translation will get passed over in favor of those with high-quality, context-aware tourist information.

Why? Because even abroad, most tourists want a little bit of home. Websites that clearly demonstrate cultural understanding and natural content flow garner more attention—and in turn generate more revenue.

Image source: BigStock



About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is a freelance technology writer with a passion for telling great stories about unique brands. For the past five years, he's covered everything from cloud computing to home automation and IT security. He speaks some French, is fluent in Ancient Greek and a master of Canadian English — and yes, colour needs a 'u'.