Foreigners Play But Don't Pay

Foreigners owe tens of thousands of euros to the Slovak Mountain Rescue Service (HZS), which has been able to make Czechs and Poles who are not insured to repay the money, but the situation is generally worse with Russians, Slovak daily Sme reported.

A new law, now being drafted, is to help the HZS. Under the legislation, rescuers are to pass the unpaid invoices for the search for tourists in poorly accessible terrain to a state organisation that will enforce them, Sme writes. Payment for the HZS intervention was introduced in Slovakia in 2006, but tourists can pay insurance that will cover the costs.

At the end of last year, the HZS registered claims totalling EUR 84,000, HZS head Jozef Janiga said. “Up to 95 percent of all claims for rescue work are from abroad,” Petar Lazarov from the Slovak Interior Ministry that is in charge of the HZS, is quoted as saying.

The HZS has scored a 90 percent success rate when exacting claims from the Czech Republic and Poland, Janiga said. The situation is worse when it comes to Latvians, Russians and Ukrainians, he added. It is not worth the effort in the case of tourists from Israel and Africa as the costs of exaction are higher than the owed sums, Janiga said.

One unpaid invoice for a single intervention comes to some 200-300 euros, he added. After the law is passed, the HZS will no longer demand that the family pay for the search for a tourist who died in the mountains. The situation from 2009 will not repeat when rescuers wanted a family of the Czech ski-alpinist who died in the Low Tatras to pay over EUR 14,000 in costs. The family has not yet repaid the money, Sme writes.


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