Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tipping

How much to tip, and when? I've been asked these questions a few times recently which prompted this post.

In general tipping in Israel and the West Bank (Palestine) follows the same pattern as other countries. However there are a few significant differences between Israeli and Palestinian culture regarding tipping.

If someone provides a service at an airport, border terminal, restaurant, hotel, or tour, then a tip is appropriate. This would include a baggage handler, maid, waiter or waitress, tour bus driver, or tour guide.

When you book a tour it is usually through an agency which is making a profit. Drivers and guides are paid a wage, and transportation costs are expensive in Israel and the West Bank. Both drivers and guides depend of tips as part of their remuneration. Adjustments can be made for excellent or poor service.

However when you book a private guide directly, you are hiring an independent professional who is able to retain a larger portion of the fee you paid. Therefor a tip in this situation should be directly proportional to your satisfaction, using chart below as a guideline.

Here's a rough guide for tipping amounts:
$4 - baggage handler
$4 per day - Hotel maid
5% of the bill - Hotel room service (some hotels add a gratuity to the bill, so check it first)
10% - restaurant waiter or waitress
15-20% - Taxis that use the meter

Small Private Tours with a driver/guide (usually less than 6 people)
10% of the cost of the tour - Driver/guide

Larger tours with a driver and a guide (usually more than 6 people)
$5 per day per person - Driver
$10 per day per person - Tour Guide

In the West Bank, tipping in restaurants is not common, except in the larger tourist facilities. Smaller cafes and restaurants are usually family run and locals do not tip.

Israelis and Palestinians usually do not tip a taxi driver. However tips from tourists are always welcome. Taxi drivers should also be tipped ONLY if they use the meter. Many Israeli taxi drivers will negotiate a fee and turn off the meter. A tip is not then needed. However if they use the meter, then tip 15-20%. Meter fares are kept low by government regulations and a driver needs to work at least 10 hours per day to make a minimum living. They deserve a good tip. However if the fare is negotiated in advance then be assured that you are paying at least 20% beyond the meter fare. If you are unsure about the appropriate fee for a trip, then try and convince the driver to use the meter by guaranteeing him or her a 20% tip.

Shared taxis are common in Israel and the West Bank for a fixed fee. No tips are necessary.

As you go around your travels people may offer ad hoc services. For instance at some tourist sites there you may be offered a short ride or to sit on a camel for a photograph. A $5 tip is appropriate.

Tips should not be offered to anyone who offers personal hospitality. People are very friendly, especially in the West bank, and may invite you to their home for coffee or provide other hospitality out of their generosity. Tips should not be offered in these circumstances since it may cause offense. If in doubt ask - IN ADVANCE - if payment is expected. Now this is where it gets tricky. There's an Arab habit at times, of refusing payment, with the expectation that you will insist. This is where you need to use your judgment and cultural sensitivity to decide whether to tip or not.

Do not give money to street children or adult beggars. In traveling the West Bank, and in parts of Israel, you will see shocking deprivation. However if you are moved to help in some way, find a local non-profit charitable organization and make a donation. Contact our office for advice on this.

If you take advantage of the home hosting accommodations offered by Green Olive Tours, then bringing a gift for the family is appropriate, but not tipping.

Comments

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9 comments:

  1. taxi fares are low in israel? first time i heard that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Leon - 'Low' is a relative term. Petrol and Diesel costs are high, and the cost of living is high in Israel, and similar to many European countries. So the cost of a taxi ride needs o be considered on this basis.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Does the sign "$" stated in the essay really refer to US dollar?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes the "$" sign refers to United States Dollars.

      Delete
  4. I agree with most of the tipping guidelines, but I think $4 for a maid or baggage handler is excessive. Depending on the hotel, a more appropriate amount would be $2 day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. $2, (about 7 shekels at today's rates) is not enough, and would be considered stingy.

      Delete
  5. Is it common to use US dollar, not shekel, for tips in Israel and West Bank?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Best to use local currency - the shekel.

      Delete

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