Bagan tourism restricted
After last week’s earthquake, the Department of Archaeology has estimated repair work will take one year to complete and prohibited vistors from entering 33 pagodas, which are also off-limits for sunrise and sunset viewings.
AS the list of Bagan pagodas damaged by last week’s earthquake continues to grow, the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library said yesterday that repair work would take at least one year to complete.
The 6.8-magnitude tremor, which struck on August 24, was centred 25 kilometres (16 miles) west of Chauk in Magwe Region.
U Thein Lwin, deputy director general of the department, told The Myanmar Times yesterday that visitors are prohibited from entering 33 pagodas and are not allowed to climb to the upper levels of those pagodas for sunrise and sunset viewing.
“We have set the prohibition period for one year. We will allow visitors to enter and climb the pagodas again after the renovation period,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, the prohibited list includes the popular Pyathatgyi, Shwesandaw, Htilominlo and Sulamani pagodas. The inventory of damaged pagodas and temples has also risen to 397 from last week’s count of 187.
The ministry also released a list of damaged pagodas in areas outside of Bagan, including 35 in Salay in Magwe Region, five in Mrauk-U in Rakhine State and 13 in Sagaing Region.
Representatives from local travel and tour companies expressed doubt that the tourism industry would be adversely affected by the earthquake, with some even suggesting that the quake had boosted international interest in the ancient pagodas. President U Htin Kyaw also said last week that there were plenty of undamaged pagodas for tourists to see.
Daw Sabei Aung, managing director of Nature Dreams travel and tours, said yesterday that at least five of the prohibited pagodas were included on their tour package list, but tourists have not complained about not being able to go inside.
“They understand the situation. We arrange to visit villages and offer other services in the Bagan region, so the tourists have been satisfied with our service,” she said.
Tourists photograph the quake-damaged Sulamani Pagoda in Bagan on August 25.