• Aug 2, 2018

Table of Contents

Nepal Government's probe committee was formed to investigate the Helicopter Rescue Scam and submitted its report to the Tourism minister on 30 July 2018. This fact-finding committee has recommended the Nepal Police be given the responsibility of conducting such tourist rescue operations from this September 2018, defying to stop any such insurance scams in the future that have damaged the country's reputation. It has also suggested running an investigation on the cases of organized crimes and fraud charges against the culprit companies and groups involved with fake rescue operations.

There are widespread complaints that some of the Trekking Agencies, Helicopter Companies, and Hospitals have been making claims against their customers' travelers' insurance policies for fake helicopter rescues. In addition, they have been accused of presenting counterfeit bills for wide-ranging medical examinations for simple altitude-related headaches.

Many such Helicopter Rescue has taken place with companies that sell the trek on a cost package and later on push the trekkers and climbers to agree to airlifts for minor illness to the multiple claims for a single chopper ride. However, at some point, trekkers and climbers who look for a fast return after the adventure also have increased the Heli Rescue Scam. Once the hospital in Kathmandu certifies the documents saying that a rescue was medically justified thus, the insurance company pays the claimed bills.

As per the committee's suggestion, the rescue operation in Nepal will be conducted through the Nepal Police from September 2018 to ensure safety and reliability and stop such scams. Furthermore, Nepal Police should abide by Public Procurement Regulations while selecting helicopter companies and hospitals to rescue and treat tourists. As per the panel report, Nepal Police can spend immediately on rescue works from its Welfare Fund and be reimbursed through the insurance claimed.

It is widely believed that Government's action to stop the Heli Rescue Scam will boost travelers' confidence to visit Nepal with proper insurance at its best cost. Thus, the country will be able to meet its target of welcoming 2 million travelers on the Visit Nepal year 2020.

Such travel-related scan can happen anywhere in the world; some common tourist-targeted scams that one have to worry about, thus recommend having a look at some of the example of travel scams in Nepal.

Pradip Limbu

Pradip Limbu