How to open safely for visitors

The British Virgin Islands is a positive case study in how to open safely for tourism and health tourism. Protocols specific to business sectors within the tourism industry have been developed including a specific and very detailed one for spas.

For the first time since March, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is open to international tourism .

With visitors allowed to enter from December 1, 2020, new health and safety measures include testing, contract tracing, social distancing and tourism industry staff training have been put in place.

Comprehensive protocols were created to allow visitors to experience a safe, luxurious vacation supported by tracing technology and strict testing guidelines.

All visitors to the BVI need to show this documentation at the airport:

  • Negative test results from an RT-PCR COVID-19 test taken through a certified CLIA laboratory within five days of the flight.
  • Proof of travel insurance that includes COVID-19 medical care.
  • BVI Gateway Travel Authorisation Certificate.

The BVI requires all tourists to take another RT-PCR test once they arrive at the local airport, and make an appointment for yet another RT-PCR test on the fourth day of the trip. Until that final test all travellers must quarantine at their hotel or resort.

To ensure quarantine rules are followed, all must activate the BVI Gateway App contract tracing system on their phone and wear a wristband to monitor movements. Visitors must pay US$175 per person to cover the costs of all RT-PCR tests, the wristband and contract tracing services, and to receive a BVI Gateway Travel Authorisation Certificate.

Once the results of the final RT-PCR test are in, tourists can move around the islands. Anyone who tests positive must quarantine for at least 10 more days at their own expense.

These protocols must be carried out by visitors from any nation, regardless of pre-existing visa agreements between the two countries.

The British territory has revised its legislation, improved its medical facilities and made adjustments to daily life on the islands, such as mask wearing, social distancing and installing hand washing stations. Most hospitality businesses are Gold Seal Certified and ready for tourists.

For tourism businesses to be approved to serve international visitors, the government has three requirements:

  • All staff undergo Gold Seal COVID-19 training
  • All businesses pass the Gold Seal COVID-19 environmental health inspection
  • All businesses nominate a COVID-19 Officer