Destinations

Nepalese government cracks down on Everest rescue fraud

Trek operators have been engaged in what insurance companies describe as a wave medical and helicopter rescue fraud, preying on tourists completing Mount Everest treks.

Fairfax has reported on several cases where treck operators, guides, helicopter evacuation companies and hospitals are conspiring to deceive insurance companies by encouraging unneeded evacuations and exaggerating symptoms.

One Australian trekker, Geoffrey Chang told Fairfax his guide pushed for immediate helicopter evacuation, even after Chang was feeling better and his oxygen levels had come back to normal levels.

The hospital Chang was taken to then told him his symptoms would need to be exaggerated so insurance would pay for his stay.

The Nepalese government believes the guides earn large commissions from tour operators by pushing for the unneeded emergency evacuations.

Mount Everest base camp
Mount Everest base camp

Nepalese officials have flagged millions of dollars worth of potential fraudulent insurance claims in the past six months.

In response, the Nepalese government has announced a new monitoring program to crack down on the fraudulent claims, with new procedures being set up for medical evacuations and helicopter companies, trekking operators and hospitals are now required to submit invoices to the Nepalese Minister for Tourism’s office.

Natalie Kidd, Managing Direct of Intrepid’s destination management company, PEAK DMC told Travel Weekly the company is relieved that the Tourism Board is taking this issue seriously.

“The actions of a few unethical operators puts both the local tourism industry and traveller safety at risk,” she said.

As one of the poorest countries in the world, Nepal relies heavily on tourism.

“The country is just starting to recover from the earthquake three years ago, which makes it especially sad to see that the actions of a few unethical operators may have a wider impact on the recovery of Nepal’s trekking industry and the hard-working guides and porters who work each day in the world’s highest mountains,” Kidd said.

“While there are certainly cases where trekkers have been unnecessarily evacuated by a few dodgy local operators, the issue of altitude sickness is a serious one for the whole industry.”

PEAK DMC Nepal is the largest trekking operator in the country, but Kidd said that doesn’t mean they’re the cheapest.

“Instead, we ensure that all leaders receive regular training by specialists in Altitude Mountain Sickness. This helps them to identify when AMS is serious enough to require descent and what form of descent is the most appropriate.”

“Last year our rescue rate was less than 2 per cent. We report and review every evacuation and would welcome a system where all companies are required to do so.”

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

  • The Archmage of the Æther

    Somehow, i’m fine with Nepali milking Everest climbers and insurance companies. This, too, shall find its own equilibrium.

Travel Agents

Flight Centre lowers FY19 profit expectations as Aussie leisure operations struggle

by Huntley Mitchell

Work at Flight Centre? Well, you may want to grab a pillow to scream in before reading this.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Technology

Google Maps adds new filters to its expanding hotel search options

by Christian Fleetwood

Google Maps does not yet offer a filter for mini-bar drinks though, much to the disappointment of Travel Weekly’s editor.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Technology

Air passengers to be weighed before boarding to cut fuel costs

In a bid to reduce airline wastage, a tech start-up has come up with an interesting way to potentially cut fuel costs and emissions on flights.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Pilot incapacitated during Perth to Hong Kong flight

by Ali Coulton

The flight captain was forced to call upon crew and passengers for help after becoming out of breath and suffering from impaired vision.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Boeing reveals billion-dollar cost blowout from 737 MAX crisis

by Huntley Mitchell

It appears the order for a new ping pong table and Nespresso coffee machine at Boeing HQ will be put on hold after this dour financial news.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Sri Lanka tourism speaks out about attacks, as death toll is downgraded

In light of the devastating bombings that killed hundreds of people in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, the country’s tourism board has released an update for travellers.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Flavour of the Week

Didn’t get much done this week? Feel free to live vicariously through these high achievers.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

“Business as usual” in Honiara following civil unrest: Tourism Solomons CEO

It appears everything is back to normal in the Solomon Islands capital, after the election of the country’s PM spurred violent protests.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Agent wrap: Club Med breaks famil record, name Travelmarvel’s new ship + more!

If the thought of going back to regular-sized working weeks makes you as petrified as it makes us, take solace in these pictures of agents having a kick-ass time overseas.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Aloha Friday wrap

How can you make your short week even shorter? Use this Aloha Friday wrap to convince yourself you’re exploring the Hawaiian Islands.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Where to play two-up around Australia

Industry punters looking to try their luck while paying homage to those who served in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations this Anzac Day, look no further.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Six Hawaii travel hacks

Get the most out of your holiday on the Hawaiian Islands.

Share

CommentComments