Friday, August 18, 2017

Schwedagon hikes entrance fees

The entrance fee at Shwedagon Pagoda for foreign visitors will rise from US$5 to $8 from October 1, the pagoda’s board of trustees has announced.

Nuns walk on the platform of Shwedagon Pagoda during celebrations to mark its 2600th anniversary in March 2012. (Boothee/The Myanmar Times)Nuns walk on the platform of Shwedagon Pagoda during celebrations to mark its 2600th anniversary in March 2012. (Boothee/The Myanmar Times)

Trustee U Win Kyaing said the additional revenue would be used to pay for the installation of English signs around the pagoda, as well as English maps of the site that will be given to foreign visitors. Trustees have also built a new elevator at the pagoda’s southern entrance, he said.

It is the first change to the entrance fee since it was set at $5 in 1995.

“We want to provide better services to tourists when they visit the pagoda and to cover the cost we are raising entrance fees,” U Win Kyaing said.

“These kinds of services are standard in other countries. We also plan to release pamphlets in Thai and Chinese after English and we have created a Shwedagon pagoda website and Facebook page,” he said.

Ankish Jain, an Indian national who lives in Yangon, said he did not mind paying $8 to enter the pagoda but the services currently offered to foreign visitors were poor.

“No information or any kind of guidance is not provided at the pagoda. When a foreigner leaves the pagoda they still know almost nothing about it,” he said.

One Yangon resident who visited the pagoda last week said the increase was a “good idea”.

“It should have been $8 before. It is still less than the entrance fees charged for famous places in other countries,” he said.

Tourism industry stakeholders said the increase was unlikely to deter foreigners from visiting the pagoda. Sanjeev Gupta, the chief executive officer of The Corriander Leaf restaurant in Yangon, said an extra $3 “doesn’t matter much to tourists”, particularly for package tourists, as entrance fees are managed by the tour company.

More than 345,000 foreigners visited the pagoda in 2012, paying about $1.75 million in entrance fees. With tourist numbers expected to rise steadily in coming years, the higher entrance fee is likely to generate several million dollars in additional income a year for the pagoda.