Jamaica Stories and Tips

Tipping is Compulsory!

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Hassle
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I went to Jamaica expecting a few problems and had none. You hear talk of drugs and muggings and general advice is not to travel alone or at night unless escorted in a group. Only use official taxis. Whilst there, ganja or marijuana seemed to abound but a polite refusal of an offer to sell was all that was required. Likewise it soon became evident that it was in a Jamaican's nature to "hassle" you to buy. Again, a polite refusal and you were left alone, even in the markets that edged the tourist attractions. We did heed the advice to travel safely and so I cannot comment on the risk of attack, however, as with all countries including our own it is surely sensible advice that is being given.

The tourist board is currently surveying passengers as they wait to go home from the major airports to assess the level of hassle that is experienced. They are trying really hard to reverse the image of Jamaica cultivated in the 1980s at a time when the country was very unstable and many of the population desperate. They are succeeding.

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Tipping
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The only annoyance that we found was the requirement (I did intend to use that word) to tip everyone. We stayed in a resort where tipping was prohibited but everywhere outside of the resort tips were not only expected, they were demanded. Upon arrival at the airport our bags were taken from us to the bus, a distance of only about 20 yards. We had no choice in this, the hotel rep told the porter to take the bags and they were gone before we realised. The porter would not put the bags on the bus however, nor allow us to, until he had been tipped. At this point we did not have any Jamaican currency, neither did we have any small US notes and after travelling for almost 20 hours by this point we didn't feel like arguing and so a very happy porter left with a very sizeable tip. If there was one thing I learned on this trip it was that wads of dollar bills are a necessity. Bus drivers and guides all expect a tip as do crew of any boats you go on. At a local airstrip whist waiting for an internal flight a tip was demanded from us from a security guard. What he did we are not sure but when faced with a man with a gun positively demanding you to pay up I'm afraid we just gave in...

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