To make tourism sustainable at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bagan, visitors need to be made better aware of preserving monuments and respecting tourist guidelines, said U Naung Naung Han, the chairman of Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneurs Association.
“We have found that some visitors are destroying frescos. Some are writing their arrival dates and names with correction pens on pagoda walls. Some tourists have even climbed up to restricted areas. So, foreign as well as local tour companies need to control them. We need to conduct awareness training for them. If we are aware of the restrictions, we can share them with others,” said U Naung Naung Han.
Some related departments and local people have been less cooperative in conducting sustainability exercises at Bagan, said U Aung Aung Kyaw, the Director of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum.
“For example, if a department submits a budget, they must have a budget plan. We also need to have coordination so that the budget can be allotted among heritage sites. For example, we submitted a budget to supply electricity in some villages. When, we received the funds, we purchased concrete lamp posts to fix power lines. But, the authorities are not allowed to erect concrete posts in some places. So, we need more cooperation between the related departments. Some of the local people took photos of grass on the pagodas, and posted them with captions asking who was responsible for this, and what are officials being paid a salary for. They don’t feel that they also have a responsibility towards the heritage sites. So, we need to take necessary measures to ensure more cooperation between and among the related departments and local residents,” said U Aung Aung Kyaw.
“There were of 3,822 monuments in Bagan until it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. About 400,000 tourists visited Bagan in this fiscal year,” he added.
In order to protect the heritage sites of Bagan, the Department of Archaeology, National Museum, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture have prohibited making a noise, talking loudly, touching frescos in ancient buildings, taking photos and videos in ancient buildings with frescos, taking photos and videos beside Buddhist images, and making tattoos of Buddha’s image.
Moreover, the department has prohibited sleeping and sitting on Buddha’s throne and the surrounding pagodas and terraces; selling, buying, destroying and causing damage to antiques, including Buddha images; illegal trade of Buddha images; acting in the pagoda; drawing and writing on the walls of pagodas; cooking and eating in the pagodas; and, throwing rubbish in the pagoda premises.
By Nyein Nyein(Translated by Hay Mar)