Thursday, May 15, 2008

Just a few words of advice

Five months in the BVI entitles me, I think, to have some opinions. 

To those whom I have known and met, please do not take this as criticism, particularly BVI Islanders whom I know you love and treasure your islands so much.  I also make these comments as a colonial person myself so I know what irks me at home, particularly outsiders telling me how things can be done better.

A friend told me that when the things that made you smile when you first arrived on the Island no longer make you smile, then it is time to leave the island.  Here is a list of things which in my own opinion could make this great nation even better....


  • A sense of humour.  The island is too serious about itself.  Have fun, don't take things so personally.  Learn how to party.
  • A service mentality. Service is meant to be delivered with a smile.  I do not want to be made to feel as if I am disturbing someone by asking for a meal, buying goods, etc.  That's what shop assistants, waitresses are there for.  That's why you get paid, not to be nasty or indifferent to customers.  
  • Some tarmac.  There is no excuse for some of the roads in town.  Putting down the occasional patch of tarmac is no good, you are only adding a bump where previously there was a dip.  Tarmac the entire road. 
  • Some planning controls. You will soon realise that you have gone too far.  You are cutting up the countryside to build those mansions.  Too much, too soon.
  • Rid of derelict cars.  These things litter the whole island, they are just empty shells rusting away on the side of the roads everywhere. An eyesore and an environmental nightmare.
  • Departure Tax included in the ticket price.  It does the BVI no favours that after queuing for check-in at the airport you then have to stand in another line (before you stand in the security line) to pay your departure tax.  This makes us look 3rd world.  Get this included in the ticket price as is the case in the majority of the world!


  • Drinking and driving.  Come on.  I know this is one of the rum islands but there is no excuse that you can drive completely plastered out of your mind and have no fear of recrimination.  Stop it before people get killed.
  • Texting and driving.  As if using your cell phone when driving is not bad enough, stop trying to text at the same time as you drive.
  • Stopping.  Yes, you know, stopping your car to pick someone up with no warning or even an attempt to pull over to the side. Have some consideration, as a minimum use your indicators and pull over.
  • Being unfaithful. There are just too many stories of men and women being unfaithful to their partners.  It is just not right.  Find the right person and spend the rest of your life with that one person, is it that difficult?
  • Dumping of sewage.  There are too many yachts who dump their waste straight into the sea.  This is killing the reefs and polluting the beaches.  Enforce the correct disposal of waste.  Inspect chartered yachts, require marinas to have sewage collection points, process raw sewage!
  • Racism. There is no excuse for the way that down-islanders, non-belongers or other expats are treated with so much disrespect. We are here to fill a gap in skills, knowledge or even work that belongers do not want.  I am not saying that you need to embrace us but neither should people be treated as if they do not exist. I've heard too many shouts of "white trash" coming out of car windows in such a small amount of time that I've been here.  Also don't forget that the Dominican Republic is where many Tortolans went to find work when things were tough here, do not condemn DRs who now do the same on these islands.  If it wasn't for the Jamaicans on the island, it would be an island with no waiters who actually smile at you!  As for the "Europeans", 60% of the economy runs from financial services, mainly from firms and offices run by "European" offices, the others are manning the dive shops and sailing operations that makes tourism in the BVI so successful. 


  • Immigration.  Tourists arriving at the airport need to get a good first impression.  Immigration controls make a lot of people feel unwanted as tourists.  That is no way to treat people if you want their money and you want them to come again.
  • Work Permits.  There are valid reasons why the island is so strong on immigration but there is no reason why it should take honest hard working people who want to contribute to the island's economy three months to get a work permit and then have to renew it every year. 
  • Bureaucracy.  There is just too much and too stringent.  No need to be do jobs worth about it.


  • Daylight Savings Time.  I know this is close to the equator but there is no reason why you can't have Daylight Saving Time so that instead of getting the sun hitting my bed at 5am and going dark at 7pm these events could happen at 6am and 8pm.  This seriously cramps my style.  I want to be able to enjoy the daylight in the Caribbean and not having the time changed for summer makes no sense and wastes more energy. What's more restaurants and bars would do a lot more business if you could stretch the daylight after working hours.  Think about it!
  • Take a driving test. There is just no way people can be that bad driving or disrespectful to other cars on the road.  Learn the basics and then drive in the knowledge that there are other people on the same road.  Don't drive around hairpin bends, on the other carriageway, at full speed, I could be around the corner.
  • Keep to small hotels.  Mass tourism is not for these islands. Keep the hoards away!
  • Continue to be polite.  It is the best thing this island has to offer.  You walk into a place or even cross someone on the street and you get offered a "good morning".  That is so nice, never loose this, please.


Anonymous said...


You know, I thought maybe I was getting paranoid...but I was down-island (Tortola)for over a year and I saw the same things that you did. And, having gone to work there because the particular skill set was unavailable there and being exposed to the negative attitude of a lot of the local populace to outsiders, was a shock. In Jamaica, we welcome outsiders who can contribute to the economy...

Granted, I did meet a few good friends in Tortola...Canadian, British, Trinidadian, and Tortolan! (smile). But they need to relax a bit....


Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and read the, "Just a few words of advice". We just recently returned from the BVI. While we loved the scenery & diving we were taken back by the overall poor service and what seemed a dislike of tourists by the locals. While we did meet some great people and were treated well on Jost Van Dyke, that was the exception. What a shame. They have such a beautiful set of islands and beaches. I would imagine that tourism is a large percentage of the economy. Unfortunately we won't be returning.

Anonymous said...

Wow, interesting......."white trash" Never hear that coming from another local. Maybe it came from "down island people" Haha j/k. But I must admit that a lot of the things in your article are true. Like the unfriendly, rude people that act as if they were raised in a family where manners were not practiced.

Also, it is true that we do not like "down island" people (which includes Jamaicans) but this is mostly due to the fact that most of them are responsible for a lot of negative events that happen on the island (I'm sure that they'll admit it if you ask them).

As far as Dominicanos, I dont think that most locals have a problem with them (or atleast not my family). In fact, the majority of my family still lives the Dominican Republic ever since my great-great grandfather went there to work.

Anonymous said...

The thing that gets me is the hypocrisy. People insist that you say good morning / good afternoon / good evening to them - hello or hi is not enough and if you don't you are considered rude and teeth are sucked - and then the response is still to treat you rudely in response. Customer service is non-existent and when it comes it is reluctant at best.

For an island full of such rude people, yet to still insist on these courtesies is baffling.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, we are due to fly to Tortola for six months in Nov, and I was looking forward to it, now not so sure. Any more positive reviews or advice from anyone else?

Best Caribbean Vacations said...

The unhelpful service seems to be a common thing in the Caribbean. I know exactly what you mean, service tends to make you feel as though you are an intrusion on them. No reason though that you can't enjoy the best Caribbean vacation ever.