LENT (Languages in European Niche Tourism).

“If I am selling to you, then I speak your language, aber wenn du mir etwas verkauft, dann musst du Deutsch sprechen”.   Willy Brandt
In the EU, selling to visitors who speak many diverse languages is vital, but challenging.  Growing tourism in the EU is a key objective, it is the 3rd largest sector, employing 17 million people. The European Commission communication ‘Europe, the world’s No. 1 tourist destination — a new political framework for tourism in Europe’ (COM(2010) 352) was adopted in 2010. It demands a coordinated approach for initiatives linked to tourism and defined a new framework for action to increase the competitiveness of tourism and its capacity for sustainable growth. Missed business opportunities due to language skill shortages are magnified by the huge scale and growth of the tourism sector. This is particularly a problem for niche sector tourism companies.

This project is innovative compared to standard tourism based language training, it aims to map the key language needs of 4 niche sectors. These subsectors will then support the building of a web and mobile based language application for the use of early stage language learning.
This approach of being driven by the needs of the tourism sector by identifying common threads to put into the app is not only unique in that it covers multiple niches in the tourism industry but it allows the ‘core’ vocabulary to be used by other tourism subsectors.

The key results will be:
1  A mobile and web based learning application with audiovisual material will be developed through a unique collaboration which enables instantaneous and fully flexible translation between all 14 languages for both the core (everyday) and sector specific (specialist/niche) words and phrases.
2  The project will develop a partnership between the language experts, 4 niche tourism sector providers and the ICT provider to enable the most user friendly and flexible  tool to be tailored to suit the needs of all users. The tool will allow two-way translation and learning of key words and phrases.
3  200 individuals as a minimum will test and validate the app, learners being drawn from the 4 target niche sector groups.
4  Total usage levels will be monitored – we expect open access traffic to exceed at least 2000 users by project end and 4 additional niche sectors to have adopted its use.

The project will support 14 languages, chosen on three criteria:
– The Erasmus Plus Programme states most visited by non-residents for tourism are in order of visitor numbers:  Spain, Italy, France, UK, Austria, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Portugal, Turkey.
–  The main non EU countries of origin for tourist visitors to the EU are USA, Russia, China, Japan and Brazil  (44% of non EU tourists visiting the EU in total).  Eurostat 9/2015.
–  Significant growth in tourism is also occurring from India and Arab speaking countries e.g. Indian tourism to the EU grew 40% between 2009-12 and they have a large and fast growing middle class.

The 4 niche sectors we will target to develop niche/specialist vocabulary are:

1) Cultural tourism: may include history, arts, architecture, museums, theatre, heritage, and indigenous peoples.  The ‘Grand Tour of Europe’ is the most recognizable early example of cultural tourism.
2) City tourism: e.g. city sightseeing, city breaks, shopping, health resorts/spas, conferences/conventions/business tourism, sports requiring man made infrastructures such as arenas and stadia.
3) Rural tourism: e.g. most aspects of the following: walking, climbing, adventure holidays, canoeing, rafting, skiing, hunting, angling, cycling, horse riding, mountain biking, farm holidays.
4) Sustainable tourism: this would include eco-tourism and large parts of the agritourism subsector.

The 1000 words and phrases will be developed on the following basis. 400 words will be everyday or core words, the basic building blocks for speaking a language. (We will include a good proportion of everyday words and phrases that a tourist is likely to want to use or understand). 600 specialist words and phrases will be developed, spread across the 4 niche tourism areas described above.

The vision of the project is to increase the use of foreign language in the tourism sector, giving even small businesses the chance to grow and benefit of incoming guests from outside the EU.