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Every country has its own traditions and rules about what is customary when it comes to tips and gratuities. In Jamaica the percentage and procedure differs from place to place. Though many places do not allow tipping, many all inclusive resorts for example, most Jamaicans will appreciate the extra income. Wages in Jamaica are generally small, and living costs are high. A fair tip for job well done is a great way to show "respect" to those who work at resorts, drive taxis, etc. Often tipping can be done in ways other than with money.
Some restaurants include a 10 percent to 15 percent gratuities charge into the final bill, others do not. Review the bill or ask your server about the charges incurred. If a gratuities charge is not incorporated, tip as you would at a restaurant at home, 10%-18%, depending upon the level of service. Like always, tipping is based solely upon the diner's discretion.
Jamaicans always expect tips in the restaurant even though a service charge was already included in the bills. Giving tips of $200(JD)-$500(JD) is considered a stingy tip for them in some restaurants even though a service charge was already included in the bill. Correction: The service charge has nothing to do with the servers - it is an internal charge done by the restaurant. Please do not confuse a "service charge" (which is usually about 10%) with a gratuity included and tip as you would service charge or not.
Similar to restaurants in Jamaica, many hotels tack on a service charge for food, beverage, and room expenses. Then again, some other hotels do not include this charge. At the time of check-in, consult the front desk employee regarding the hotel's policy on gratuities and/or service charges. Otherwise, tip helpful service employees an adequate amount. Bellhops expect $1(USD) to $2(USD) per bag, and maids anticipate $1(USD) to $2(USD) per day. Give the tip directly to the person, do not leave cash on a pillow etc. Small gifts of items that are hard to get or expensive in Jamaica are also accepted and appreciated.
A word of caution for those travelers staying in all-inclusive hotels: many of these establishments strictly prohibit tipping. Employees at no tipping resorts can lose their jobs for accepting gifts or tips. Ask what the policy is before you tip at an all inclusive resort.
Taxis in Jamaica are mainly non-metered (you set the price with the driver before boarding the taxi). Rates for metered taxis go by the car, not by the passenger. Non-metered taxis may be by the car or by the passenger (set the price and how the price is calculated before boarding the taxi). Check with the driver before starting your trip if you have any questions about the fare. Either way, a 10 percent to 15 percent tip for taxi drivers is customary.
Shuttle bus users in most cases should also tip the driver from $1(USD) to $5(USD) per person based on the length of trip from the airport to the hotel. This works out to about 10 percent to 15 percent of the fare based on the distance from the airport to the hotel. Special factors to consider:
Tour guides should be tipped like taxi drivers unless a service fee is included in the cost of the tour.
Tipping your baggage handler at the airport is expected and it is customary to tip at least $1(USD) per bag.
Some hotels and some package tour operators include transfers in the price of package. The bus driver should be tipped from $1(USD) to $5(USD) per person based on the length of trip from the airport to the hotel (hotels just off the airport at the lower end and those 2 hours or more away at the upper end). This works out to about 10 percent to 15 percent of the fare (based on the fares charged by independent transfer operators) based on the distance from the airport to the hotel. See also the word of caution under 'hotels' above if the bus driver is employed by the resort.
In Jamaica tipping can be done in either Jamaican dollars or in U.S. dollars. If the price of the service is listed and paid for in one currency the other currency can be used for the tip if the value of the tip is appropriate. For example if the tip at the airport is $1(USD) then the tip could be in Jamaican dollars at the current exchange rate to $1(USD).