Bagan named UNESCO World Heritage Site
Bagan has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a quarter of a century after the ancient capital was first nominated.
The recognition by the UN’s cultural body will serve to boost demand from both Western and Asian markets, the tourism industry says. But meeting conservation pledges and effective local governance will be critical for the area’s future.
“Bagan is a destination which is already popular among tourists and, with this [UNESCO] title, it will further attract visitors from abroad,” commented U Aung Htun Lin, Myanmar Tourist Guides Association chair.
However historian and Yangon Heritage Trust chair Thant Myint U suggested that tourism should be part of Bagan’s future but not the driving force.
“Bagan is not only a place of sublime beauty, but a place of tremendous historic importance, that was fuelled by an energetic multiculturalism and an openness to the outside world, a place from which we can still draw lessons and inspiration,” he told The Myanmar Times.
There is a need for proper conservation and a move of any commercial activities away from the archaeological zone, he added.
“But it’s equally important to make sure that Bagan remains accessible to ordinary Burmese people and not become a tourist playground. The Burmese student and pilgrim, not the well-heeled tourist, should be at the centre of planning.”
The proposal to list Bagan was approved by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee at a meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Saturday. This marks Myanmar’s second entry to the list after World Heritage Status was granted to the ancient Pyu cities of Sri Ksetra, Halin and Beikthano in 2014.
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