The Government of Nepal, probe committee formed to investigate the Helicopter Rescue Scam and has submitted its report to Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) minister on 30 July 2018. This fact- finding committee has recommended the Nepal Police to be given the responsibility of conducting such tourists rescue operations from this September 2018 defying stopping any of such insurance scams in future that has 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’ travellers’ insurance policies for fake helicopter rescues. They have been accused of presenting fake bills for wide-ranging medical examinations for simple altitude-related headaches.
Many of such Helicopter Rescue has taken place with companies which sell the trek on under 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 the 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 suggestion, the rescue operation in Nepal will be conducted through the Nepal Police from September 2018 to ensure safety and reliability and to stop any such scams. Nepal Police should abide by Public Procurement Regulation while selecting helicopter companies and hospitals for the rescue and treatment of tourists. As per the panel report, Nepal Police can spend immediately for 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 the travellers’ confident to visit Nepal with proper insurance at its best cost thus the country will be able to meet its target to welcome 2 million travellers on the Visit Nepal year of 2020.
The Investigation committee had report has urged the government to investigate the transactions of eight travel, trekking and rescue agencies, four hospitals and three helicopter companies for quoting exorbitant rates and making claims against tourist insurance policies. The committee has suspected that they may be involved in tax evasion. The fact-finding panel probed 10 helicopter companies, six hospitals and 36 travel, trekking and rescue agencies following complaints filed by tourism entrepreneurs.