Ask anyone anywhere what a good tip is and most likely we’ll get the same answer, i.e. whatever the level of service merits. However, if we take a closer look, we will know that tipping is a practice heavily rooted in cultural context.
You may agree with me that doing a good deed, can sometimes turn out to be pretty complicated. In some places, it might get the recipient fired, and in others, it will earn us effusive praise. Whatever it is tipping is best done on a case by case and country by country basis.
For example, in China, the rule at many hotels is that there should no tipping whatsoever. For fine hotels in China, they have already added in a compulsory service fee of 10-20 percent, so nothing is expected or allowed beyond that. Further as most tour guides get commissions from those tacky souvenir shops that they take us through, travel agents and hotel managers recommend against tipping them. Should you want to tip, then tip quietly and out of sight if you do, and not in front of employers.
However, in Europe, tipping can get pricey in the land of euro where the one euro tip can actually threatens to cause inflation. In fact, the introduction of the euro has increased the cost of tipping in Greece.
As for Latin Americans, some live off tips; others proudly refuse them in favor of service charge. Over there, you will find a high degree of variety, not just in cultures but also in tipping mores, with rapid currency fluctuations adding to the muddle. For example in Argentina, tipping is more expensive now than it used to be, previously a 20-peso tip at the higher end meant a lot, and because of inflation, it isn’t quite enough at times. No wonder it is recommended to have plenty of change in our pocket for tipping when we visit those places of interest in Argentina, as many shops and restaurants will refuse to break bills.
How about those in Africa and the Middle East? In general it helps in some of the world’s least developed areas, not just to be generous but to be thoughtful as well!