Bagan to bid for heritage status in 2018
THE plight of Bagan’s “limbo hotels” could come under the spotlight again as the authorities start the process of getting the city’s famed cultural zone listed as a World Heritage Site.
Such a designation is expected to make Bagan even more popular as a tourist resort, with all the implications for job opportunities, infrastructural improvements and international recognition.
Yesterday, U Than Zaw Oo, director of the Myanmar branch of the World Heritage Site Committee, announced that the government would apply for listing at the 2018 meeting of the committee.
“We will apply to register Bagan region as a World Heritage Site. Over the next two years we will demarcate the cultural zone and compile a full list of cultural sites in Bagan. We will also take people’s suggestions for demarcating the area.”
He added that after the application had been submitted to the 2018 42nd World Heritage Site Committee, committee representatives would visit the city the following year.
To define the area of the cultural zone, an 18-member committee was formed in the last week of July comprising officials from the ministries of Home Affairs, Religion and Culture and other government departments, Myanmar Engineering Society and the Mandalay Region government.
U Than Zaw Oo said the government officials would check to ensure that hotels in the cultural zone were in compliance with the 1988 law governing the protection and preservation of cultural heritage regions.
The long-running “limbo hotels” problem arose when the 42 hoteliers were cleared to build in Bagan by the Archaeology Department in 2013, but subsequently ordered to stop work and not to take in guests.
The guesthouses, mostly modest establishments run by local residents, are deemed to be too close to Bagan’s famed temples, a factor that could put at risk the city’s bid to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage listing.
As a result, the Ministry of Culture reinstated a zoning ban put in place in 1998 but rarely enforced since then. Earlier this year, 129 properties deemed to be operating too close to the ancient site, including the 42 guesthouses, were given a 10-year deadline to move to a special hotel zone.
U Win Myint Khaing, chair of the hluttaw’s Religious, Social and Cultural Affairs Committee, said last month that this was its first attempt to untangle the complex legal situation that has confused landlords, hoteliers and local residents. The seven-member committee undertook a three-day survey from July 6 to 9 with a view to reporting back to the region parliament on a possible amendment to the 1998 law. – Translation by Thiri Min Htun
Preparations are underway to prepare Bagan for a World Heritage status application.