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Myanmar halts new hotel construction in ancient temple city

Yangon - Myanmar has prohibited the building of more hotels in the ancient city of Bagan, which the government hopes to nominate as a World Heritage Site soon, a minister said Wednesday. "We will not allow new hotel constructions there," Soe Thein, minister of the president's office, told dpa.

There are currently 17 hotels under construction in four zones adjacent to temple city, but none are situated in the site itself.

Over the past two decades, several hotels and other buildings were granted permission to be constructed in the heart of ancient Bagan, such as the Aureum Palace Hotel and the 61-metre Royal Watchtower, to the annoyance of conservationists.

"We must keep Bagan as an ancient city, but we can’t cancel the hotel deals that the former government allowed," Soe Thein said.

Bagan was a Buddhist kingdom during the 9th to 13th centuries. It boasts thousands of pagodas and monasteries and is one of Myanmar’s most popular tourist attractions, drawing an estimated 400,000tourists last year.

Myanmar first proposed Bagan as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in themid-1990s, when the country was still under military rule, but withdrew the nomination after the UN agency requested more details on preservation and management plans, UN sources said.

DPA


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