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Tortola Travel Information

The Basics

Electricity

Electrical current is 110 volts, 60 Hz. Plugs are the same as in the US with two-pin flat blades and one with a third round grounding pin.

Language

English is the main language spoken on the islands.

Travel Health

There is a small risk of dengue fever in the British Virgin Islands, so visitors should protect themselves with insect repellent. Recommended vaccinations are minimal but include hepatitis A, if not previously taken.

Limited medical facilities can be found on all the main British Virgin Islands and there is a hospital located in Road Town, Tortola. There is no hyperbaric chamber in the British Virgin Islands for diving emergencies, and complicated medical conditions are usually referred to the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, or the USA. Comprehensive medical and travel insurance is recommended.

Tipping

For good service, a 10 to 15% tip is usual in the British Virgin Islands. Hotels often add a service charge to the bill, usually between 10 and 12%, so it is best to check before tipping. Bellhops and porters usually expect $1 per item of luggage. Taxi drivers are not usually tipped as most own their own vehicles.

Safety Information

The British Virgin Islands are generally considered very safe for travellers and they have a low crime rate, but sensible precautions should always be taken regarding valuables, especially on beaches. The islands are susceptible to hurricanes, particularly during the months between June and November, but tropical storms can occur throughout the year. It is a good idea to check the forecast for storms during your stay and to plan around the hurricane season, particularly the months of October and November.

Local Customs

In the British Virgin Islands, it is considered impolite to take photographs of the local people without asking their permission beforehand.

Business

Business attire in the British Virgin Islands is fairly formal and conservative; a lightweight suit is appropriate for most meetings, unless in an informal outdoor setting where smart slacks and a shirt is more appropriate. Handshaking is customary for introductions between both men and women; women are considered equals in the business world and should be treated as such. Business cards are exchanged on introduction. Being late for meetings is considered offensive despite the laid back impression of the island, although meetings are usually fairly unstructured. The language of business is English, and hours of business generally from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Communications

The international dialling code for the British Virgin Islands is +1 284. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01127 for South Africa). No area codes are required. A GSM 900/1900 network covers the islands. Internet cafes are available throughout the islands and many hotels provide Internet connections. Phone boxes are widely available and accept coins and phone cards, which can be purchased in most shops.

Duty Free

Travellers to the Virgin Islands over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 227g of tobacco and wine or spirits up to 1 litre.

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