The number of foreign
visitors to the Shwedgon Pagoda, the most famous pagoda in Myanmar, dropped by
nearly 30,000 in 2017 compared to the previous year, according to data released
by the Trustee Committee.
There were 615,763 visitors
to the pagoda in 2017 while 2016 saw 646,734 foreign visitors.
It is perhaps due to the
conflict which happened in Rakhine State in August and September and correlates
to the decrease in the number of visitors to Myanmar around the time, according
to the sources in tourism industry.
‘‘Almost every visitor to
Myanmar visits the Shwedagon Pagoda—some complain about the rise in the entrance
fee but some don’t.
We try to explain our best. We thought the number of foreign
visitors to the Shwedagon Pagoda would be higher and higher only to be
surprised to hear about the drop,’’ a Thai-language tour guide said.
Thai visitors accounted for
the highest number of visitors to the Shwedagon followed by Chinese visitors.
October, November, December,
January, February and March see more visitors than other months as they are the
dry season when most foreign visitors come to Myanmar.
The trustees of the pagoda
raised the entrance fee from K8,000 to K10,000 late last year. Meanwhile the
Ministry of Religious and Cultural affairs is trying to get the pagoda onto
UNESCO’s world heritage list.