Tips and donations in Madagascar
What tip can you give Madagascar?
What tip would be appropriate and what can you give Madagascar?
This is a legitimate question that comes up very regularly for anyone coming to Madagascar for the first time. Between the exchange rate, the cultural approach and the difference in standard of living, it is sometimes difficult to get by.
In my line of work, I was very surprised during my first few months on the job that the French had a reputation for being a bit stingy when it came to tipping. Tipping may not be very ingrained in French culture, which could explain some of the awkwardness.
The important thing is not the amount but the gesture when it comes to proper service. People will not ask for anything, but they expect recognition for the service they have received. If they don't get it, they are convinced that they have done something wrong.
So in an effort to have an adapted behavior, it is normal to ask the question and be able to read a short guide from my point of view about it.
So what should we pay in tring money in Madagascar and for what?
Although it is not obligatory, tipping is common in Madagascar. It is important to understand that individuals expect a "small gift" for every small service rendered. These small gifts can be in the form of donations: Clothes, credit, cigarettes, invitation to a drink or a meal... But also and especially in money.
Even if you buy an already defined service such as a guide fee in a tourist place, a meal in a restaurant, a driver for the rental car, etc... The person who is at your service will always expect to receive something extra for the service provided.
Although the amount may vary depending on the importance of the service provided and your satisfaction, here is a short list that can serve as a basis:
Guide per day: About 20,000 ar/day
Driver per day : 10 000 ar/day
Waiter in restaurant: about 5% to 10% of the bill (avoid tips under 1 000 ar).
Hotel luggage carrier: 1.000 ar
Although some of the amounts seem very small by Western standards, we need to look at the country as a whole.
A common perception is that large tips subsequently encourage begging and even harassment of tourists. It is not easy to find the right balance....
The ideal is to decide on a case-by-case basis, judging primarily on the professionalism of the person and our own satisfaction with the service provided.
Should we tip in local currency or in foreign currency?
In general, the tip should be in the local currency. The currency forces them to find a way to make the exchange. Nevertheless, some people can easily get access to foreign currency and accept tips in foreign currency, such as employees of a hotel, a travel agency but in general they can usually convert it into the local currency only with difficulty and embarrassment.
Sometimes some people do not hesitate to refuse the Ariary, the local currency, altogether and claim the currency instead. The baggage handlers at Ivato airport are the specialists in this matter and should be absolutely avoided. They are annoying and very intrusive. Please do not give your luggage to any unauthorized porters on arrival and also do not go for the money exchange scammers who want to pocket Euro coins. Keep your luggage yourself and ignore the pushy scammers.
It is also important not to give money to begging children, they are used by adults and as a result will never go to school.
It is worth noting that, as with large tips, this type of donation can have a negative counter-effect in the long term, creating habits and a form of dependence that encourages begging. These donations are by no means to be banned for all this, but can be distributed and used in a more sustainable way through certain associations that shape all this through their actions.
I have brought material donations, to whom and how should I give them?
Many people who travel to Madagascar come with donations such as candy, school supplies, clothing or toys to distribute along the way, and it is a very generous gesture to want to help on their own scale.
It is also good to use the generous free weight of 2 X 23 kg per person wisely but of course guests do not want to take it with them on their trip.
We collect the donations we bring and distribute them according to need to different projects that we know well and for which we can vouch.
Little Tip: Always remember to have small Ariary bills with you during your trip. In the provinces (and sometimes even in the cities) it is difficult to carry adequate bills for tips.