Coping with Hustlers - "Touts" in TangierTangier is infamous among visitors for its persistent "touts" (hustlers). A Tout is a person who tries to sell you something (a good or a service) in an importune manner. The minute you get off your ferry or train, you will meet your first "tout". Follow the advice below and you will have a much better time in Tangier.
Assume Nothing is FreeWhile hospitable and friendly folk abound in Tangier, be careful when you're in a touristy area and you're offered something for "free". It is rarely free.
Advice on where to buy your train ticket or ferry ticket will be offered by many folks, but just be aware these guys work on commission. You can easily buy your own ticket and fill out your own forms. Be firm and say "no thanks" and look confident. If you really don't know where to go, then be aware you will end up paying a tip for getting help with directions, no matter how many times the offer is given "for free".
A "free" guided tour around the Medina will most likely lead to an uncle's trinket shop or a demand for money at the end of the tour. It may also include shops you are not remotely interested in seeing. A "free" cup of tea might include looking at a lot of carpets.
If you hear the word "free", the price you pay is often not in your control.
But remember your faux guides are simply people trying to make a living to support their families. While ripping off gullible tourists may not seem like the most honest way to make money, it's simply a survival tactic and you shouldn't take it too personally. A firm "no thanks" is the best way to deal with the situation. A little humor also goes a long way.
Hotels don't suddenly disappear, fill up or move to a bad location.
This tip is especially useful for the independent travelers. When you arrive in Tangier, either at the bus station, train station or ferry port you will be greeted by many people, inquiring rather loudly, where you want to go to. Many of these folks will earn a commission for taking you to a hotel of their choosing. This doesn't mean that the hotel will necessarily be bad, it just means you may end up in an area you don't want to be in; the price of your room will be higher to cover the commission; or the hotel could indeed be quite nasty.
Hotel touts have figured lots of clever techniques to scare gullible tourists into following them to a hotel they earn commissions from. They may ask you what hotel you have booked and then tell you emphatically that that hotel is full, has moved, or is in a bad area. Some hotel touts will go further and even pretend to call your hotel for you and get a friend on the phone to tell you the hotel is full.
Don't believe the hype. Make a reservation with a hotel before you arrive, especially if you're arriving in the evening. Your guide book will have phone numbers of all hotels they list, or you can research online before you go. Take a taxi and insist they take you to the hotel of your choosing. If your taxi driver pretends not to know the location of your hotel, take another taxi.
It's better to pay a little more for your first night in Tangier rather than to end up somewhere you don't want to be.