Govt mum on relocation of hotels in Bagan zone
Despite UNESCO’S advice on the relocation of hotels and buildings in the Bagan heritage zone in 2013, the government has yet to act on the suggestion.
THE government is yet to decide on what to do with the hotels in Bagan heritage zone, even as the UNESCO has been suggesting their relocation since 2013.
“UNESCO suggested the transfer of the hotels and buildings in heritage zone to other places since 2013, but no action has been taken yet,” UNESCO’S national project officer Daw Ohn Mar Myo told The Myanmar Times.
While local residents in the area were successfully relocated to another place, the ruling Tatmadaw in the late 1990s allowed the construction of new hotels and buildings within the Bagan historical heritage zone.
Bagan could be listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO’S World Heritage Committee during its meeting in 2019 if the government can prove that it has successfully preserved the site.
For that, the Department of Archaeology and National Museum under the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture has been preparing the nomination dossier for many years.
The department completed the Bagan management plan last month, which is part of the nomination dossier. The plan indicated that hotels and buildings have to be relocated to another place.
UNESCO advised the government to allow hotel owners to operate in the area for 10 or 15 years so they can recoup their investment.
“We only mentioned to relocate seven prominent hotels,” Daw Ohn Mar Myo said. “Other hotels can continue operations as long as there are no ancient pagodas and heritage buildings in the hotel compound.”
She said UNESCO has been discussing relocating the hotels since the previous administration of U Thein Sein, but no action has been taken yet.
“We haven’t taken any action yet on the hotels because these were constructed under the wrong management,” said U Aung Aung Kyaw, director of Bagan’s Department of Archaeology and National Museum. “We need to find out the best way to resolve this issue,”
“We will decide about that issue after negotiating with related departments such as the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, the regional government and hotel owners,” he added.
According to the department, among the hotels it intends to relocate after 10 or 15 years are the Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort, the Hotel@tharabar Gate, Ayar River View Hotel, Bagan Thande Hotel, Amazing Hotel, Aureum Palace Hotel and Hilton Bagan Hotel owned by Eden Group, which is still under construction.
At present, there are 85 hotels with 2910 rooms in Bagan Region, of which the Hotel@tharabar Gate and Bagan Thande Hotel are the state-owned hotels under the management of the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism.
U Myo Win Nyunt, director of the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism, said the ministry rented out Bagan Thande Hotel to local businessman U Kyaw Sein for 20 years from 2002, while the Hotel@tharabar Gate was rented to U Aung Kyaw Nyunt for 30 years from 1994.
“We will obey the government’s decision if they want to relocate the hotels,” U Myo Win Nyunt said.
Former state-owned hotel Ayer River View has been sold to a local businessman, Mandalay Region Hluttaw MP U Win Myint Khaing said.
The Eden Group is continuing the construction of Hilton Bagan Hotel and is expected to open it in 2019, U Chit Khine, chair of Eden Group, said.
According to the Bagan architecture inventory, there are 22 ancient pagodas in the compound of the Hilton Bagan hotel.
Daw Ohn Mar Myo said UNESCO experts will conduct onsite inspections to check whether the information submitted by the government matches what they see on the ground.
“The experts will report the final results to the World Heritage Committee. The committee will make a decision whether Bagan should be listed,” she said.