By Achyut Regmi
Foreign tourists in Nepal have started reaching the police with complaints of theft, looting, pick-pocketing, abuse against them and so on.
Police received such complaints through the tourist police mechanism established bearing in mind the safety issues of foreign tourists arriving in Nepal.
In the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, 600 such complaints were registered with the police.
The tourist police’s duties and responsibilities include dissemination of information needed by tourists, an investigation into the received complaints and taking action if necessary, controlling tourist guide business operated by those without a license, and to initiate a process for action in consultation with embassy concerned in case of criminal cases.
Similarly, conducting surveillance of hotels and travel, trekking and rafting agencies is the responsibility of tourist police.
According to the Tourist Police Unit, Bhrikutimandap Chief Police Inspector Amrit Bahadur Basnet, most of the complaints (454) are relating to the missing of personal belongings.
Similarly, the complaints of theft are 98 while the number of cases of cheating is 24.
Three are related to lootings, six are about pick-pocketing, four are about abuse, one is related to the accident, four are concerned with losing and six falls under the category of others.
The tourist police have now been providing service to tourists from 10 places in Kathmandu Valley and 16 places out of the Valley.
The office has expanded its service at Bouddha of Kathmandu, Patihani of Chitwan and Bandipur of Tanahun in this current fiscal year.
With the government’s announcement of celebrating Visit Nepal Year 2020, necessity and relevance of tourist police have further increased.
Tourist Police In-charge, Basnet said that tourist police have been demanded for nine major tourism destinations including Rara Lake, Banke, Kanchnapur, Ilam and Dhankuta, in order to provide services required for tourists.
Similarly, tourist police have brought ‘Tourist Police Mobile App’ into operation for the security of tourists as well as to resolve possible problems.
A tourist can easily get various information including location of tourist police, hotline number, activities he/she can do or could not do during their stay in Nepal and ways to inform police if any incident takes place through the App.
A Metropolitan Tourist Information Centre has been operated at Thamel, a major tourism thoroughfare in Kathmandu where 90 percent of the foreign visitors coming to Nepal are said to visit.
With the coming into operation of the tourist information center in Thamel, Tourist Police will provide its services and facilities from Thamel.
Before this, Tourist Police had been providing its services from Bhrikuti Mandap. Although Tourist Police is a branch of Nepal Police, they have been getting the services and facilities from the Department of Tourism.
Tourist Police are facing problems like lack of a guideline for mobilizing the tourist police, lack of knowledge about the language spoken in various countries and lack of the required training.
Department of Tourism’s director-general Danduraj Ghimire said the tourist police service would be expanded to other places as well based on the need.
“We study the demand for tourist police coming from new places and forward the same to the Nepal Police. We assign tourist police to these places once we get the approval from Nepal Police,” he said, explaining the process about the assignment of tourist police in new places.
According to him, tourist police have played a significant role in the promotion of tourism in Nepal.
He reiterated that the Department is serious regarding the development of the tourism sector which is the backbone of the country’s economy.