International Etiquette: Global Tipping

International Etiquette: Global Tipping

currency1Take a peek at just about any global survey on tipping, and U.S. Americans are invariably at the top of the list. But when TripAdvisor shared the results of its tipping poll in June last year, they reported that even this varies dramatically among U.S. American tourists, with 97% saying they tipped for restaurant service, 79% tipping bellmen, 73% adding a tip to room service and 69% tipping housekeeping.

Tipping is not embraced as enthusiastically elsewhere, however, due to culture and customs. Take various countries in Asia, for example. As you can see from the list below, identified by a survey by MasterCard Worldwide, there is quite a difference in how people in Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong and India tip, compared with their neighbors in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

Indeed, as I discovered while visiting Japan on a number of occasions, tipping is not customary and may be considered an insult, depending on the location. In fact, leaving a gratuity may cause a loss of face and be refused if offered in Japan, so don’t be surprised if a server follows you out the door to return your yen. Be aware that a gratuity is included in most restaurant bills; international hotels may add a 10 to 15% service charge to your bill.

What Percent of People Leave a Tip?

1. Thailand — 89%
2. Philippines – 75%
3. Hong Kong — 71 %
4. India — 61%
5. Australia — 55%
6. Malaysia — 40%
7. Indonesia — 40%
8. Singapore — 33%
9. Vietnam — 30%
10. China — 28%
11. New Zealand — 20%
12. Taiwan — 17%
13. South Korea — 13%
14. Japan — 3%

It’s important to stay informed and know the customs in the countries you visit (there’s no tipping in Australia, either). As more travelers visit other countries and local customs are shared, the trend in some cultures is changing. This is especially true in the Baltic States, parts of Europe and Asia. Stay tuned for the next blog post on international etiquette and global tipping, when we visit the fourth country on the list above and explore how to handle tipping in India.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/techatham

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