The East Coast Travel Information
Local time in Tunisia is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Electrical current in Tunisia is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round European-style, two-pin plugs are used.
The overwhelming majority of people in Tunisia speak Arabic and French. English is taught in all schools and is increasingly spoken especially by younger people. Some German and Italian is also spoken.
No vaccinations are recommended for Tunisia and no serious health risks exist, but all travellers are required to show a yellow fever certificate if coming from an infected area. Travellers' diarrhoea and other parasitic infections may be contracted, but is unlikely in the modern seaside resorts. Visitors travelling outside these resorts should ensure they drink only boiled, purified water and eat well-cooked food. All medical expenses must be paid for immediately after treatment in Tunisia, and costs can be quite high. The availability of medication is limited. Visitors should bring adequate supplies of their own medication. Health insurance is a necessity.
Tipping is not a requirement in Tunisia but appreciated for good service in local establishments. Most people performing a useful service will wait to be tipped. Waiters in resort and hotel restaurants expect a tip of around 10%.
Although Tunisia has experienced political upheaval in the last year, but the country has made the transition to democracy smoothly and there is little chance of violence or unrest. A nationwide State of Emergency is still in place and curfews may be imposed at short notice, and foreign travellers are advised to carry a copy of their passport at all times. There is little violent crime, but petty theft and pick pocketing does occur. An increase in bag snatching has been noted in tourist areas and visitors are advised to keep bags close at all times. Travellers are advised to avoid the border areas with Algeria, and be extra cautious if travelling alone in the southern desert areas.
Tunisia is a Muslim country and visitors should respect the local sensibilities, especially during the month of Ramadan. Visitors, and women in particular, should dress modestly outside of the beach resorts. Women should note that coffee houses are mainly populated by men and women are often ushered into the 'family section' in restaurants as this is for the comfort. Homosexuality is illegal and although it is common to see Arab men greet each other with a kiss on the cheek and even hold hands in public, this is unacceptable for tourists. Only married couples are allowed to share rooms, but the norm is more relaxed in the tourist resorts and hotels. Being a Muslim country, alcohol is not as widely available as in other countries and those looking for a drink at the end of the day should visit hotel bars and restaurants.
Tunisians like to get to know the person with whom they will be doing business and negotiations tend to be prolonged and very sociable occasions. As with other Arab countries, one is expected to dress conservatively and formally in Tunisia. French is the common language of business and interpreters will be necessary otherwise. A firm handshake is the accepted form of greeting and the Arabic 'Salaam Aleikum' works better than a simple 'Hello.' Business hours are generally 8am to 12pm and 3pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.
The international dialling code for Tunisia is +216. The outgoing international code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (for example 0027 for South Africa). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)1 for Tunis. The country is covered by two GSM 900 mobile networks. There is widespread Internet coverage with Internet cafes in the main cities and towns.
Travellers to Tunisia do not have to pay duty on the following items: 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 400g tobacco; 1 bottle of alcohol; a reasonable amount of perfume; and gifts to the value of 10 Tunisian dinars.
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