Myanmar’s Ministry of Culture has announced it will soon forbid tourists in Bagan from climbing the 1,500-year-old pagodas, prompting a backlash from tourist operators forced to cancel the popular sightseeing activity of sunset-gazing from atop a pagoda, local media reports say.
“I’m totally against the decision. The main reason tourists come here is to enjoy the views from the pagodas. This will damage the image of Bagan,” said U Zaw Win Cho, chair of the Bagan Guide Association, according to the Myanmar Times.
Starting on March 1, visitors to the ancient city – home to more than 3,000 pagodas and stupas built in the 11th to 13th century – will be banned from the vicinity of the temples in a bid to conserve cultural heritage monuments.
The announcement, made by the Ministry of Culture on social media, comes after a medical company reportedly held a song-and-dance performance atop one of the stupas earlier in February.
The Myanmar tourism industry has swelled in recent years, with a sharp increase from 593,000 visitors in 2012 to 1.08 million throughout 2015, raising fears about protecting historical sites.