Another Bagan (Great?) Idea: Moving all the Hotels to a Special Hotel Zone…

In the city centre of Bagan on the way to the temples and stupas area, along the rather dusty roads, a myriad of hotels mushroomed. They mostly appeal for backpackers or adventurous travellers. These tourists might better rush as a new rule from the Bagan Administration might ban these hotels from the city centre for ever.

According to the Myanmar Times, the decision will particularly affect the owners of 42 hotels, inns and guesthouses, some of them still under construction. According to the newly set rule, all Bagan hotels will have to relocate to a specially designated hotel zone 4, located beside the Bagan-Kyaukpadaung road, after 10 years. The decision was announced by Sai Kyaw Ohn, deputy minister of hotels and tourism and a member of the Heritage Management Committee.

“That’s enough time for them to recover their investment, though some may lose out. But we can’t allow hotels in the Bagan heritage zone,” he said, adding that the decision had been accepted by the current government.o.

“We are planning to implement another hotel zone for Bagan further out from the city, but we will not designate it yet so as to avoid an impact on land prices,” said Sai Kyaw Ohn.

Despite a 1998 law restricting construction, many hotels, motels and guesthouses sprang up in Bagan before 2012 with the permission of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum. In 2014, the department sought UNESCO designation of Bagan as a World Heritage Site, and reinstated the ban on properties deemed too close to the ancient pagodas.

“They banned hotel construction in 2014 to get on the UNESCO list, but as late as 2013 they were still allowing building, with some restrictions of height and distance. If we had known they would impose the ban, we would never have applied to build here,” explained to the Myanmar Times hotelier U Kyaw Tint, owner of one of the 42 inns. “Now they’re acting as if we broke the law, even though we acted openly, and with official permission.”

Another hotel owner also bemoaned the retroactive application of the law. “We hoped at least we would be allowed to recover our investment,” he said.

He added that seven hotels had been granted permission to build by Culture Minister U Aye Myint Kyu.

Nyaung-U district administrator U Tin Htoo Maung told The Myanmar Times that in 2013 the Department of Archaeology permitted the construction of hotels “within certain limitations”. However, the Archaeology Department is far more restrictive and do not want to comprise.  Archeology officials explained to the Myanmar Times that ” they did not plan to offer a respite to the 42 “limbo” hotels”.

The measure is deemed to protect the heritage zone around the temples and help securing a UNESCO recognition.