29/08/2008

Tips Diminish As Crunch Bites, Says Post Office Travel

Tourists from Northern Ireland weren't tipping indiscriminately on holiday this year as the credit crunch continues to bite.

According to a new study by Post Office Travel Services, against the backdrop of rising inflation and living costs, tourists from Northern Ireland are now tightening their belts with 34% - or more than one in three - admitting they will not put their hands in their pockets on holiday, unless they receive exceptional service.

Penny conscious tourists are now refusing to tip waiters, taxi drivers and hotel staff when dissatisfied and 14% say they'll definitely be tipping less and less often, no matter what the service, to make their cash stretch further this holiday.

Of tourists from Northern Ireland holidaying abroad this summer, half will continue to leave gratuities to waiters and waitresses, the survey revealed, while 14% will tip deck chair and sunbed attendants, 11% street performers, and 5% hotel front desk and less than 1% holiday reps and tour guides.

The UK's most generous gratuity givers live in the East of England with over half tipping waiters, followed by the Scots, (54%) and those in the North of England (54%).
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Paul Paz of Waitersworld, which represents waiters in America where a 15% gratuity is expected, said: "A waiter told me at the end of a meal that an English tourist presented him with $100 and told him to keep the change.

The change was $2 or 2% of the bill.

"When the waiter politely told him how much is expected in the States, the customer graciously added more to the gratuity to boost it to the 15% level.

"However, the other English customers darted disapproving looks at him. Because of the economy globally, there has been a decline of restaurant sales and a decline in the more generous gratuities in America beyond the standard 15%.

"It is a long-standing American standard that tipped employees are only paid the current minimum wage so gratuities are vital here."

The countries where holidaymakers can afford to be more generous are Turkey, where lira sales rose by 28% this year, and Egypt, where the country's pound jumped 31%.

The Turkish lira has consistently scored highly for value in the Post Office 'Holiday Costs' barometer.

Post Office Head of Travel Services, Helen Warburton, said: "When researching your holiday destination, do read up on the tipping etiquette for that country so that you can factor this into your spending budget.

"In some places, like the USA, giving a little extra is considered really important, for example.

"Familiarising yourself with the tipping culture will lessen your chance of causing offence and stop you spending money unnecessarily. Do always take some small notes and coins in the local currency just in case."

(BMcC)

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