No shoes in the pagoda, please

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The famous pagodas are expected to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019. Photo / 123RF

Myanmar authorities have announced plans to prosecute tour guides if their visitors do not take off their shoes upon entering pagodas in the country's tourism hot spot Bagan.

"Legal action will be taken if tourists do not abide by the rules of our country," Aung Aung Kyaw, the director of the Bagan Department of Archaelogy, told DPA.

Climbing the religious pagodas is a major draw to the famous temple landscape, which is expected to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage in 2019.

The Department of Archaeology is currently suing a tourist guide whose foreign guests walked on the brickstone pagodas while not barefoot.

According to Bagan tourguide R Yu Moe Myint, the number of visitors to the pagodas violating the rules by wearing shoes or sleeping in the temples is increasing.

"I don't understand foreigners' ignorance of our rules," he said.

The pagodas are mainly climbed as viewpoints during sunrise and sunset.

The construction of artificial hills serving as alternative viewing platforms is currently underway after the government requested that all pagodas be closed by autumn. A similar ban however was cancelled last year after protests from the tourism industry.

According to a Bagan district administration department, around 750,000 tourists visited Bagan between 2014 and 2016, bringing in $19.7 million to the archaeological zone from entrance fees alone.

- AAP

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