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Touts

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Share your tips on how to deal with them.
12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 1 Msg: #90422  

They were so persistent and annoying that many tourists ended up in heated arguments with them. Many tried to remain polite ("Please go away, I just want my peace"), but an equal number told them in no uncertain manner what they thought about them. The sad highlight of the day was when one of the hawkers made an impressive exit from the ferry shouting "F*** you all" at the top of his lungs.


Quote from Drift-snorkeling with giant turtles (Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia)

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12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 2 Msg: #90424  

12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 3 Msg: #90426  
I think the best way to deal with them is to say 'no thank you' in the least energy consuming way or else say nothing at all. Basically resign myself to their presence and use as little energy on them as possible.

Though, I have lost my cool on some occasions, when in India and some other places, when I could never have a single uninterrupted thought. It is a slippery slope though. Once I lose it, I just get more and more frustrated, especially if they get aggressive too, like the one described in msg 1. Reply to this

12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 4 Msg: #90431  
B Posts: 212
It's a tricky one. Something I learnt to do over time was to actually make a joke out of it, which seemed to work. When a touter approached me, or wouldn't leave me alone, I would start doing it back at them, and say something like 'no thanks I'm not interested in your t-shirts (or whatever) but d'you want to buy something from me? I've got sarongs, lovely anklets, come on, good price!' and more often than not the touter would laugh and then it diffused the situation, and I could walk away with both of us laughing. (It distracts them for long enough for you to take back control of the situation 😉 and keeps it all in good humour).
One time I was standing outside Chennai station and I wanted to get a rickshaw into the centre to do some shopping. Within seconds of me appearing I had about 8 drivers around me, clamouring for my business, all offering me 'good price'. I started to feel a bit stressed and wound up and was about to start telling them to leave me alone when I remembered about an article I'd been reading in one of the Indian newspapers about rickshaw drivers in Chennai - so I started telling them that I'd read all about how Chennai rickshaw drivers were charging too much and how the government was getting very cross about it. They then all started laughing and I was able to take a moment to get control and name a price I was willing to pay for the journey, then they all agreed that one particular driver should take me for that price and the rest of them went off, all laughing together.
Another tactic I used from time to time was to actually explain to the touter that if they keep asking me to buy something, then I will feel cross and won't want to buy anything, but if they leave me alone to look at what they have, then I might want to buy something. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn't, and is dependent either on you speaking enough of the local language to explain this, or that they have enough English to understand what you're saying.
Other times, I just got a bit hardened and would just say one 'no thanks' without giving any eye contact at all and keep on walking purposefully. What makes touters continue the way they do is that they have enough experience of people saying 'no thanks', then getting persuaded to stop and 'just look' anyway. So if you say 'no thanks', mean it and walk away.
It does get really stressful and it's easy for me to sit here and say stuff as I haven't had to deal with it for a while, I know when it's constant it can really get on top of you, but I also found it good to remind myself that this was all part of the travelling experience, that these people are desperate to make a living and genuinely believe they have to hassle hassle hassle in order to stay in the game, and that it's not a personal thing. Reply to this

12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 5 Msg: #90433  
One thing I loved about travelling in Iran, is that there were almost no touts. An exotic destination with no touts is quite a treat. I would have preferred if people asked fewer curiousity questions, but the 'no touts' was already a very welcome bonus. Reply to this

12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 6 Msg: #90436  

12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 7 Msg: #90453  
B Posts: 124
Mell,

haha, thanks for starting this threat, and especially with that picture. :-) For me, the sheer volume makes the biggest difference. I can easily manage the "normal" number of touts per day and be polite or just ignore them, but too much is too much as I described in my Gili Trawangan entry (Drift-snorkeling with giant turtles (Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia)). The worst is always when both sides get worked up and the atmosphere becomes hostile. Luckily that doesn't happen too often, even in very intense places like Bali. Reply to this

12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 8 Msg: #90457  
Apparently, touting has become illegal in Istanbul and you can tell the tourist police if it happens. I was still pestered last time I was there though, by hotel touts, and didnt see a tourist police person anywhere.

The worse possible scenario that happens with me is when some tout appears at a particularly awkard moment and I irritably tell him to 'f*ck off' and then my boyfriend gets irritated at me for not ignoring the tout, and I then get irritated at my boyfriend for adding critisism onto my already irritated state which makes me more irritated and then my daughter chooses that moment to make some demand. I start wondering if I will ever get enough time to empty my mind, so I can start thinking about nice things again. Reply to this

12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 9 Msg: #90460  
I heard the following theory: if you want to avoid such people, you should wear cheap cloth to confuse them about your welfare... And more better thing is to look like they are. Reply to this

12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 10 Msg: #90463  
How can somebody who looks like I do, make myself look like the guy selling water in the pic in msg 1? Reply to this

12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 11 Msg: #90501  
Ignore them is my first choice, not even looking at them. If I know an area is swarming with touts, then I put on my sunglasses, as then they cannot see your eyes and it is harder for them to know if they have established eye contact.

Those that outright lie to me - i.e. "the public ferry is not working today, but you can take my boat" usually means they receive my well practiced death stare - and maybe a few sharp words.

Another tactic is to respond is an obscure language that you know the locals will not understand. I always thought that Swahili would be nice to use in Asia, and some Australian aboriginal dialect would be excellent for elsewhere in the world. Reply to this

12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 12 Msg: #90508  
Were there touts in Syria, Shane? I am hoping it will be like Iran, with hardly any.

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12 years ago, October 23rd 2009 No: 13 Msg: #90523  
Hardly any touts in Syria, and those that you do meet are not persistent. Gentle folks, those Syrians, and that is reflected in the behaviour of their touts.

The only time I saw an annoying tout (who didn't approach me) was at the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus, but I am sure you are more than capable of handling the odd tout, Mel ;-)

I saw others at the usual places - markets and major tourist attractions (Krak des Chevaliers and Palmyra) but after Turkey (where there are plenty of touts) you will not notice the Syrian versions at all. Reply to this

12 years ago, October 24th 2009 No: 14 Msg: #90552  
I've only been traveling for about two months but in Asia at least there seems to be an aversion to having your picture taken without permission so whenever a tout bothers me, I shove my camera in his face and begin snapping photos. It's turned into a rather enjoyable game for me and the ones that are particularly obnoxious, I'll hound like the paparazzi for a minute while they run and cover their faces in frustration. I have a nice collection of tout photos ranging from angry to awesome poses from those that were better sports about it and I've enjoyed it thoroughly. Reply to this

12 years ago, October 24th 2009 No: 15 Msg: #90587  
Thanks Shane 😊 Probably they havent realised yet how much more they can get tourists to pay for an item, than the locals can pay.

The only time I saw an annoying tout (who didn't approach me) was at the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus, but I am sure you are more than capable of handling the odd tout, Mel ;-)


A tout, at a mosque! Tut tut! He should respect their religion, as many will likely demand that I do.

...so whenever a tout bothers me, I shove my camera in his face and begin snapping photos.


LOL! I like that one, if it does really irritate them. Most people in India, appart from an occasional woman, seemed to like when we took their photos. I never tried taking photos in any other Asian country.

I have a nice collection of tout photos ranging from angry to awesome poses from those that were better sports about it and I've enjoyed it thoroughly.


Would you post them here, if you have time. It would be funny to see touts looking harassed. :D

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12 years ago, October 26th 2009 No: 16 Msg: #90722  
to Mell (Msg: #9 )
I mean that it is possible to go to a local market and buy inexpensive cloth (e.g. sport suit) not to look like European with money, but to look like local people... more or less 😊 Reply to this

12 years ago, October 26th 2009 No: 17 Msg: #90800  
Thanks for the explanation, Marie. 😊 Reply to this

12 years ago, January 26th 2010 No: 18 Msg: #101198  
B Posts: 105
Moroccan touts are really persistent but generally friendly. We used to pretend we already had whatever they were selling or say we already had our bus tickets when we were walking into the terminal which meant we could then get into the terminal and make our own mind up about which bus comapny to go with without having to pay commission to people who had followed us in. You can't really blame them though, they're just trying to make a living and in places like Morocco which has hundreds of tourists from Europe, many who probably pay whatever is asked from them without bargaining, they do see foreigners as having money to spare. Reply to this

12 years ago, January 26th 2010 No: 19 Msg: #101201  

You can't really blame them though, they're just trying to make a living ..


Isnt everyone! No excuse for pestering people, in my opinion. Reply to this

12 years ago, January 26th 2010 No: 20 Msg: #101202  
B Posts: 105
True and I can't say I was a fan of it - I do think that part of the problem is tourists giving them whatever they want though. Reply to this

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