Tourist Police, a special unit of Nepal Police, though small in number have been working exclusively to ensure a pleasant stay of tourists in Nepal. This unit, which has been playing the role of a facilitator and mediator between foreign tourists and the stakeholders, is also involved in mitigating and solving security and safety related issues hindering tourists from an enjoyable stay. The role of Tourist Police will be felt even more in 2020 as the government aims to bring in two million tourists to mark the Visit Nepal Year 2020. Amrit Bahadur Basnet, chief of the Tourist Police Head Office, who currently heads around 227 such personnel, shared some of the unit’s duties and responsibilities with Khabarhub. Excerpts:
What is the major responsibility of Tourist Police? How does it function?
Tourist Police is, in fact, a special unit of Nepal Police that works under the Department of Tourism. With its head office situated in Bhrikutimandap in Kathmandu, we have complaint counters at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), and Basantapur Durbar Square. We recently established a tourist information center in Thamel as well. Notwithstanding the number of tourist police, we also play the role of a facilitator to simplify and expedite official formalities to ensure hassle-free service to the tourists. We also advise and assist them in safety and security during their travel, trek, and hotel stay in any part of the country. Besides, we also engage in daily patrolling within the tourist areas, especially in the Kathmandu Valley. We initiate quick action and investigation as soon as we receive any complaints from the tourists.
What is the motive of opening the Tourist Information Center in Thamel?
In fact, the main objective of the information center is to assist foreign visitors with various services, such as providing them information, security, and other services such as visa renewal, complaints, etc. This will also help tourists to seek any information and relieve them from getting the trouble to visit the head office in Bhrikutimandap for any services. This center will also work closely with Nepal Police to supervise and oversee the security in Thamel.
How many such complaints do you generally receive on an average? And, what is the nature of the complaints?
If the data of the previous year is to be considered, we received a total of 600 complaints. Mostly, they come to us when they lose their documents such as passport, travel documents, cameras, bags, etc. Nepal is considered a safe place for international tourists. Therefore, they often freak out without much worry. Therefore, they sometimes lose their stuff. We have also instance of some tourists coming to us with complaints such as they have been cheated by taxis. Such cases, however, are negligible. As I said earlier, we try to ensure a hassle-free trip and stay of the tourists by keeping away hawkers, beggars, and street children away from them.
What does this indicate? Do they have to frequent your office?
Frankly speaking, Nepal is a safe place to visit. Even though losing one’s belongings is worrisome, their imprecision indicates that they feel safe in Nepal since they do not come across instances of theft, robbery or burglary. That’s why they wander around freely. Regarding the frequency of their visit, they need to visit is twice—to register their complaints and to take their lost documents or belongings. That’s why we opened up the information center in Thamel so that they do not have to walk all the way to Bhrikutimandap from Thamel. We have also launched a Tourist Police Application recently for the tourists.
You talked about the Tourist Police Application. How does that work?
The app will also have all information about the works of the Tourist Police, location details of nearby police offices, emergency contact numbers (helpline numbers), dos and don’ts, information on tourism, among others. This will also assist users with services such as online complaint registration, traffic notification, etc. This can be downloaded from the Android Play Store on the mobile. This will be updated gradually with all necessary features.