Have you noticed as a tourist traveling in a developing country, that you always get a ‘special’ price? I emphasized ‘special’ because I’m not talking about a discount. If you travel anywhere outside a developed country, you know that if the locals pay $5 for a taxi, you pay $15. If you are lucky, it could be $10. Similarly, if you walk into a hotel, odds are, your rate is higher compared to locals. I believe, as a tourist, we are being ‘sized up’. You might not know but when local shop owners look at us, what they think is how much money do we have or how much money we will pay or how big of a sucker we appear to be. It’s sad but true.
Are You Aware of The Special Price?
While traveling I noticed that most items don’t have a price tag. Meaning, you have to figure out what it is worth and bargain until you and the seller reach a satisfactory price. What I’ve learned in the ‘special’ price game is that, a tourist should not look vulnerable or look as if they are going to pay whatever the price.
Most of the time, I know what an item is worth when I look at it. However what bothers me is that when they sell, for example a pair of fake sunglasses for $30, when I know I would not pay more than $5 if I was in the USA. From my experience, Asia is notorious for this ‘special price for tourists more than anywhere in the world. I don’t mind paying a bit extra but to be extorted is just plain annoying. I sometimes feel it’s unfair for tourists because, for example, in the USA if I wanted to see the Grand Canyon, I would pay the same price as a local where as in a developing county a tourist has to pay a higher amount to see an attraction.
On the contrary, developing nations require money to develop. One of the best ways to achieve this is by charging more for tourists to see local attractions. Locals probably aren’t able to afford that much to see the same attraction anyway. It would be similar to outsourcing jobs to developing nations where they are being paid a low salary to carry out the same job.
Bottom line is, the local governments charging a higher prices for attractions for tourists would be fair, in my opinion, because it is same for all tourists and it goes directly to government and not a crooked individual. However a local shop owner charging whatever amount is not fair. Therefore, as a tourist, it is important to go to reputed shopping malls where they have price tags for all items sold. That way we can be assured that we are not being ‘ripped off’.
I’m curious to know your thoughts on this matter. So share them below in the comments section.
@Stephanie I’m fine with paying a price that is given on a price tag but not when they try to cheat me. That’s bad business. Of course it is nice to buy from a local shop and help them than buying from a large retail store :) Thanks for your views!
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And I would rather support the local small shops and markets than corporate owned retail stores where no one in the community benifits and all the profits go to a foreign CEO fat cat.
I’m OK with “special price”. I either bargain to what i’m OK with paying, or don’t buy. When I went on a trek through small villages I paid a lot more for some things than I would normally, and I didn’t bargain or haggle because I knew they needed the money more than I did and this is how they survive. I got some nifty souveniers, they made good money, we talked, laughed and all walked away happy. In the city when some one tried to sell me knock off chuck Taylor’s for a hundred and thirty american dollars, when I can get name brand for one third, I kept walkng away until he was down to 20 dollars. I got the shoes I wanted (and needed) he got a sale. It was a pain, but in the end worked out fine. You just have to be patient, willing to say no, and mindful of the circumstances the seller may be in, and whether you feel generous or are on a tight budget. Haggling is often expected, its on you if you over pay.