Tipping By Foreign Tourists

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Tipping is a sensitive topic in Asia, where breaches of social convention are taken more personally than they would be in the West. Tipping practices are widespread, and rewarding good service without causing anyone to “lose face” in Asia can be difficult. Tipping is not a Chinese custom but with British influence came the practice of tipping. Though there is a 10% service gratuity added to most restaurant and hotel bills, tips are still expected. This article examines the tipping habits of tourists from six distinct countries—three Asian and three Western—while visiting Hong Kong. This study shows that even though there is a slight adaptation to local tipping habits, those who tip more often at home do the same while traveling abroad. Americans tended to tip more often and in relation to service whereas British and Australian tourists tipped less frequently. Mainland Chinese tipped the least often. A relationship between service quality and tipping frequency was shown for some personal, one-on-one services.

Keywords: Customer satisfaction; National culture; Service charge; Tipping

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Hotel and Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • Pacific Tourism Review is designed to meet the needs of the fastest growing tourism region. The tremendous changes in outbound and inbound travel patterns occurring in the wider Pacific area and their associated effects on the economy and environment demand a publication that specifically focuses on this area. Pacific Tourism Review aspires to advance excellence in tourism research, promote high-level tourism education, and nourish cultural awareness in all sectors of the tourism industry by integrating industry and academic perspectives. Its international and interdisciplinary nature ensures that the needs of those interested in Pacific tourism are served by documenting industry practices, discussing tourism policy and planning issues, providing a forum for primary research and critical examinations of previous research, and by chronicling changes in tourism patterns throughout the Pacific region.
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