RANGOON — The tourist entrance fee for visitors to the ancient temples of Bagan will increase to US$20 next year, an official from the Ministry of Culture said, a second price hike in two years that has seen the fee double from its 2012 rate.
An official from the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library under the Ministry of Culture, who declined to be named, said the entrance fee would increase from the current $15 beginning Jan. 1.
“We will raise the fees to get more income for Bagan region to be able to use in preservation and protection of the site, since now it is preparing to enter the World Heritage list,” he said, referring to a designation bestowed by the UN cultural body Unesco on sites of historical significance globally.
The ancient Pyu cities became Burma’s first entry on the list in June.
“To enter the World Heritage list, it will take around two years of preparation. We need to redefine the zones, the rules and the management plan for the whole region,” the official said.
Earlier this month, a three-day consultation meeting was held in Bagan, attended by Culture Ministry personnel, local and international preservation experts and local officials.
“It will attract more interest [from tourists] after entering the World Heritage list,” said Myo Nyunt Aung, an archaeologist in Bagan who also works for a tour company.
He said that he did not think the entrance fee increase would negatively affect the number of tourists coming to Bagan, which is one of Burma’s most popular tourist attractions.
“It’s not that much. The entrance fee at Ankor Wat [Cambodia] is also $20 and in Bagan we have many places to visit,” he said.
He said that to become a World Heritage site, public awareness on laws and rules pertaining to the ancient site needed to be raised, and construction projects in the ancient zone must stop.
The Ministry of Culture collects the tourist entrance fee, which was $10 until June 2013, when it rose to $15.
“Once we get the entrance fee, it is directly put into the country’s budget and we have to request it back when we need to do preservation and protection works for Bagan. It’s not part of the Ministry budget,” said the official with the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library.
He added that in 2012, 150,000 tourists visited Bagan, rising to nearly 200,000 people last year.