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View Full Version : Faith in British FCO travel advice on the slide


Escher
16th February 2006, 01:21 PM
The British FCO updated their travel advice yesterday and have not revoked their statement "we advise against all but essential travel." I used to respect what they said but it is gradually losing its worth. Especially when they say:-

"We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake."

That is laughable and a little ironic when, as I understand it, none of the mainstream British insurers will cover you. I already have a compehensive (and expensive) yearly policy which won't cover the risk, and I am not in a position to get another one.

I used to think their information was well researched but this gem of a quote makes me seriously doubt that.

Unfortunately it will probably mean that my climbing partner will bail from this trip and I will have to replan and again go out there on my own.

Spaceman347
17th February 2006, 03:32 AM
Oh oh, do you hear that noise? It's the sound of Yakshaver winding up again :p

Oli
17th February 2006, 03:52 AM
I know exactly what you mean, Escher. I feel it too.

I called the FCO yesterday, after a five round game of 'phone tag' I got to speak with the Desk Officer for Nepal, a civil servant underling. I explained our problem with the insurance, and the various inconsistancies & contradictions etc. He told me that 'a minister' (wish I'd asked which one) takes all sort of advice from the various sources (blah blah) and makes a decision... etc.

Unfortunately our predicament is of little concern to them, they are unlikely to consider us when the phrase their official advice. Maybe if a few of us called to voice our position... [PM me and I'll share the direct phone number] ...but even then they'll likely give it much weight. I anticipate their
next update will be on the 20th or 21st.

And I am sorry to say I am a little disappointed that the BMC weren't a bit more useful rather than sympathetic.

But, goddam it, I'm going anyway - FCO and insurance.... ppptttt! It may sound reckless but long live the Great British Spirit Of Adventure. It'll take more than dodgy advice and unfavourable risk mitigation issues to put me off. I'm confident that things are safe enough and it'll all work out OK in the long run. That's my decision and fate and time will tell if I am right.

Escher
17th February 2006, 01:52 PM
It is really peeing me off as I can't really look forward to this trip at all.

It was all planned out to go and do some climbing, visit some places I hadn't been to before and go with someone who hadn't been to Nepal before. All of those things were going to make it a really good trip. But until the FCO change their advice back the guy I am supposed to be going with won't buy his flight, so I don't know whether he will be going, whether I'll have to go on my own or whether I should cancel. So it is all up in the air when I should be looking forward to all the good things that should be coming up soon.

It isn't that I am bothered about safety there but I can only afford one decent trip this year and I wanted to get some climbing in. Not greatly keen to go and climb on my own without any insurance, a bit too necky that. But I am starting to think like you Oli, bugger them and be damned, go anyway solo a couple of peaks and fall down a crevasse then they'll be sorry!

Do you have any firm plans for the second half of your trip? If I am on my lonesome I am considering Renjo La, Cho La and climbing Kangshung and Island Peak solo (unless I can find someone who is up for joining me), or bumming about somewhere taking endless photos. I do not get the impression that the FCO are going to change their advice back. Now they have changed it I think they'll leave it as it is, safer for them to just hedge there bets. So I don't think it is that likely that my mate is going to come along. I guess after this weekend we'll probably know. We'll have to see.

Ciaran33
20th February 2006, 10:03 PM
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to Summary, Terrorism and Local Travel sections. The overall level of this advice has not changed. We no longer advise against all but essential travel to Nepal.


The political situation in Nepal remains tense and unpredictable following the end of the Maoist ceasefire and elections, which took place on 8 February 2006. There is a possibility of further violence and disturbances with planned blockades in Kathmandu and other regional centres from 14 March onwards, and an indefinite nationwide Bandh (shutdown) from 3 April onwards. We advise you to take extreme caution if travelling in Nepal during this period. We will continue to keep this advice under close review.

Oli
20th February 2006, 10:35 PM
Hurrah!

I have today discovered that STA (Student Travel Agents) are selling insurance policies underwritten by Gouda (a Dutch company) that WOULD cover travel to Nepal despite what they say on FCO.gov.uk (though they still wouldn't cover claims that arise directly from terrorist action or war etc, but would cover unrelated medical emergencies)

I was just about to ring Fortis (the BMC insurance underwriters) to argue the toss when I noticed the FCO advice update as per Ciaran's post above. I called the BMC and, yes, our cover has been reinstated for Nepal.

W00t!

julia
20th February 2006, 11:17 PM
Thats fantastic Oli, you must be so happy and on cloud nine. I knew it would turn out ok for you.

Have a really great time. :)

yakshaver
21st February 2006, 02:24 AM
Fantastic news Oli!! Good stuff man!

On the subject, apparently the 6pm news on BBC tonight carried a story about emails which have been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, which showed that the UK Foreign Office deliberately downplayed the murder of 9 British Tourists in Thailand during the last 18 months, on their Travel Advice Site, so that the Thai Tourist Industry wasn't harmed. I know this is not a political forum, and I only mention this so people can better understand that travel advisories are essentially political organisations under various influences... I guess there is a lot of foreign investment in Thai tourism, influencing decisions about what advice to give on the travel advisory board. The same would go for Europe or North America, I suppose. However the travel advisories can get all hairy chested when it comes to "inconsequential" places like Nepal. Or Ouagadougou for that matter.

Nothing relpaces doing your own homework when travelling anywhere. The sad consequence of silly FCO and State Dept travel "advice" is the one affecting people purchasing insurance.

lenny
22nd February 2006, 09:35 AM
Hi all, haven't posted for a little while but when I do it's always to promote the positive side of Nepal, having seen it first hand, and travelled the region extensively...but for the first time I'm the bearer of worrying news as today I have received the first ever email from my Nepalese friends in Nepal saying they are worried for their safety. These friends are independant guides who need you to go there, and are always positive, but today they themselves were unsure and asking for help to leave the country to make a living for their families.

We can all see the conflict is coming to a head, and it's not looking pretty, just be sensible if you decide to go, and good luck.

Lenny

Disco
27th February 2006, 07:41 PM
IJust to confirm Oli's post, I've just got some insurance in England for Nepal through STA Travel 0161 834 0668.

It excludes cover for the hazards for which the FCO warnoing is posted, so you're not covered for being boshed in a riot, but you would be covered for twisting your ankle.

Thanks for the heads up Lenny

Hope this helps.

Disco