Working Vocabulary: 6 Types of Tourism English It Pays to Learn

Every year, over 1 billion people visit other countries.

These people have a special name: tourists.

Whether you are going to India to eat Indian food, or traveling to New York for the people and the lights, you are a tourist!

Wherever tourists come from, there is one thing they often have in common: They often speak English.

Knowing tourism English is a skill that can give you an advantage in getting a job or in progressing your career.

Tourism English is a bit different from regular English. It is simpler, more direct and clear, and it has a lot of specific vocabulary and repetition. Learning tourism English is a great idea if you plan to work at any job that deals with tourists.

And as you are about to find out, there are lots of different opportunities in the tourism industry!

The Benefits of Learning Tourism English

Tourism is a huge industry. In fact, the number of tourists has been increasing for the past 60 years. A large number of tourists means a large number of jobs for the tourism industry. The tourism industry includes any field that deals in some way with visitors to your country.

One out of every 11 jobs is related in some way to tourism. Lots of jobs means lots of people hired every year, so starting a career in the tourism industry is not as difficult as in some other fields.

That is why knowing tourism English is so important. It can help you better communicate with foreigners, which will make you a better worker, and maybe even help you get a promotion!

Tourism English: Not Just for Hotels

When you hear the term “tourism English,” you might just think of hotels. The tourism industry is much bigger than that, though!

Hotels are just the beginning. There are many other types of jobs that deal with tourists on a daily basis, where a good knowledge of English (and specifically tourism English) would give you an advantage.

There are many jobs that indirectly deal with tourists, and you have probably never even thought of them. For example, working in a restaurant that is in an airport or a popular tourist area is a tourism job, since you will probably be in contact with tourists very often.

Hotels might be the obvious place for tourism jobs, but there are so many other possible jobs available. Let’s look at what some of them are!

Getting Ahead: 6 Types of Tourism English to Advance Your Career

1. Hotel and Hospitality Tourism English

The tourism industry might not be entirely made of hotels, but hotels are definitely a large part of it. Hotel jobs include working as a receptionist (who works at the front desk and makes sure everyone has a room) or concierge (who helps the hotel’s customers find whatever they need to make their stay enjoyable).

You might also get a job as a bellboy (or girl!) and be responsible for helping visitors with their luggage, or a cleaner, who cleans rooms and prepares them for the next guest. Some hotels also employ spa workers, cooks and waiters.

Sample vocabulary:

  • Check-in / Check-out: The time when a visitor receives (check-in) or returns (check-out) the keys to their room.
  • Room service: A food or other service that is ordered by the visitor and delivered to their room by hotel staff.
  • Vacancy: A room that is available to be rented out to a hotel guest.

How to learn more:

You can find tips and more basic vocabulary for hotel and hospitality English here and here.

The websites and have a nice selection of worksheets and vocabulary lessons for the hotel industry. You can also take an online hospitality course.

Just learning vocabulary is not enough, though. Working on your listening and communication skills is very important for any job in the tourism industry.

2. Transportation Tourism English

When you visit a new place, you need a way to get around. You could use the public transportation system (buses and trains), but there is a good chance you will take a taxi. That is why transportation is another big part of the tourism industry.

Much of the tourism transportation field is made up of private or government-run car services and taxis. However, you can also find a job on a cruise ship or a sightseeing boat, or as a steward or stewardess on an airplane.

Sample vocabulary:

  • Destination: The location somebody is trying to get to.
  • Fare: The money a passenger has to pay for being transported (taken to a location).
  • Flat fee: This is a fixed price passengers pay, instead of paying for time or distance traveled. (Many hotels and some car services have a flat fee for getting to and from airports.)

How to learn more:

The English Club has a page with sample taxi driver phrases and conversations. This website is meant for ESL teachers, but you may find some useful information and exercises to try with a group of friends. Finally, has a nice collection of English lessons for different kinds of transportation jobs.

Although most of these are for taxi drivers, they are also good guides for any jobs in transportation!

3. Medical Tourism English

Not all tourists are traveling to enjoy themselves. The field of medical tourism is also growing, and so are the jobs that deal with it. Medical tourism is when people travel to different countries to have certain operations or medical procedures. This happens for many reasons, including price and availability.

If your country is a popular medical tourism destination, English skills will prove extremely useful in finding a job as a nurse—or doctor, if you have the credentials (skills and education)! English can also help you work in any other caregiver role or as a receptionist in a medical setting.

Sample vocabulary:

  • Procedure: A procedure is an official way of doing things. A medical procedure is an operation or other kind of medical care given to a patient.
  • R & R: A casual term that stands for Rest and Relaxation. A visitor who has just had a medical procedure needs a lot of it!

How to learn more:

You can find a large list of worksheets and vocabulary for ESL medical workers on the English Club website and several articles with vocabulary on

4. Tourist Guide English

Tourists often need someone to show them around, or take them on tours. Tours are planned explorations of certain places, and are meant to educate tourists about these locations.

A tour is led by a tour guide. To become a tour guide, you need to learn English—but you also need to know the history of a place, as well as interesting facts about it. You can also get a job at an information desk near certain tourist attractions. These positions require a wider vocabulary, since you often have to answer historical and factual questions.

Sample vocabulary:

  • Monument: A public sculpture or display that honors a person or event.
  • District: A certain area in a city or a town, often known for something specific. New York’s fashion district, for example, is famous for its beautiful and stylish clothes.
  • Scenic: Very beautiful and pleasant to look at. For example, “a scenic view.”

How to learn more:

Online course website Alison has a course specifically teaching tourism English, which you can find here. You can also find a large list of useful vocabulary for tour guides on this website.

5. English for Outdoor and Indoor Attractions

There are well-known places in a city or country that are fun for people to visit, and many tourists enjoy seeing these places. These are called attractions, and they can be outdoors or indoors. Not all attractions are meant specifically for tourists, but many deal with tourists on a regular basis.

There are many different types of attractions, which can make it easy to find something you enjoy and care about. Attractions include museums, zoos, aquariums, amusement parks, casinos and many more. There are lots of opportunities here!

Sample vocabulary:

  • Recreational: For fun. Swimming in a pool can be recreational. Tourist attractions are recreational.
  • Concession stand: A place in or around an attraction where visitors can purchase drinks, snacks or food. Also known as snack bars. In British English, these can be called snack kiosks.

How to learn more:

Want to know what other kinds of attractions are available? English Strategies has a few lists, and a map of different types of attractions. The vocabulary you need will be different for each type of attraction. For example, here are a few terms you might need to know at an amusement park.

6. Travel Agency English

Travel agencies and the travel agents who work there help people plan their trips. They deal with purchasing plane tickets, booking hotels and creating schedules for visiting attractions and going on tours.

As a travel agent, you would work one-on-one with tourists to plan a trip that is perfect for them. This means being on the phone a lot, and working with other employees in the tourism industry. The English necessary for being a travel agent is more business-oriented, but still polite and friendly.

Sample vocabulary:

  • Itinerary: A schedule, or a list of planned routes (ways to get somewhere) or events. A travel agent creates itineraries for his clients.
  • Package deal: A special deal that includes more than one purchase, and is usually cheaper than buying them separately. You might get a package deal for a flight and a hotel together, for example.

How to learn more:

You can find several great videos online with sample travel agency conversations. Here is one from Two Minute English, and another one on YouTube.

The tourism industry is a whole world of opportunities.

Knowing which opportunities you want, and learning English specific to them, is a great way to get ahead in your career!

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