The China National Tourism Administration has issued an instruction to protect tips for tour guides, affirming and supporting the incentive system for tour guides, the Shanghai Morning Post reports. Travel agencies should explore and establish the incentive system to encourage quality tour guides, the administration said.
Many tourists have been concerned that voluntary tipping could become a mandatory payment, thus increasing travel costs. Although the state opinion has legalized tipping to encourage tour guides to provide higher quality services, it failed to provide a clear standard on how to tip.
Industry experts suggested that the government launch a clear set of standards, for example, by giving a statement to remind tourists to give tips in a range according to tourists’ degree of satisfaction, with the option of not giving any tip.
In 2012, Ctrip introduced a tipping system for domestic tours, suggesting tourists pay a daily tip of between 20 yuan (US$3.13) and 25 yuan (US$3.91), but the result suggest than most tourists are not used to giving tips, with only 20% to 30% of tourists giving tips.
Ctrip suspended the scheme in October 2013, after the government implemented the Tourism Law. Tipping is aimed at encouraging higher service standards, but in order to see smooth implementation, clear policy support and a better foundation are needed, said an unnamed executive at Ctrip, adding that it’s difficult to rely on just one travel agency to change customers’ habits.
Some internet users said they are concerned that tipping could become mandatory, and that if tourists decline to pay tips, tour guides will lower their service standards.
Regarding such worries, several travel agencies said tourists have no need to worry over this, because the state instructions state clearly that tipping is voluntary, and not mandatory. They said if tourists are forced to give tips, they can complain to travel agencies.
In mid-April, a tour guide from Yunnan Chen Chunyan had her license suspended after she scolded clients for their low level of spending. Like many tour guides, Chen had no basic salary and had to rely on a commission from tourists’ shopping, so mandatory shopping has become a common practice and a vicious cycle in the tourism industry.
Now that the government has encouraged the set up of a tip system, related regulators must set up detailed guidelines and supervisory measures in a bid to resolve problems in the industry.