As part of the ‘two countries, one destination’ campaign, the Myanmar and Cambodia tourism ministers will ink a Memorandum of Agreement to tie Angkor Wat and the Bagan Cultural City, said U Kyaw Swa Min, a member of Working Group Committee for Angkor-Bagan tourism cooperation.
He told The Myanmar Times the agreement will be signed at the ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2018.
“We will negotiate a bilateral agreement for an Angkor-Bagan tourism integration plan between us before the MoA is signed by the two ministers,” he said.
U Kyaw Swa Min said the working group committee, led by the deputy directors general of the tourism ministries of both sides, are working out details on how to integrate a tourism package for Angkor and Bagan.
“Angkor Wat and Bagan are similar in natural features and were founded in the same century. They are also quite unique, and that is why we grouped them for development as one destination,” U Kyaw Swa Min said.
Currently Nyaung-U airport cannot receive foreign flights because it is a domestic airport. Tourists have to take a flight via Yangon or Mandalay international airports to get to Bagan.
Tourists cannot fly directly to and from Angkor Wat and on to Bagan from Nyaung-U airport now because it does not have enough staff.
“Even regular flights from regional countries cannot be accommodated unless they upgrade the facilities at Nyaung-U airport,” U Kyaw Swa Min said.
Nyaung-U airport is being including as part of the ancient archaeology zone that needs to pass a heritage impact assessment before being allowed to be upgraded, according to the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library in Bagan.
U Aung Aung Kyaw, director of the department said, ”We have to do a heritage impact assessment but it will be done by aviation experts. We need to do this because there will be many types of aircraft landing and taking off.
“We also do not know what ancient structures are present underground.”
The Department of Civil Aviation, (DCA) can allow international flights with aircraft capacity limitations but this needs to be approved by the Immigration Department for visa regulation purposes, U Ye Htut Aung, deputy director general of DCA, said in a previous interview with The Myanmar Times.
Almost 300,000 tourists visit Bagan yearly.
There are three ways to reach the destination -- by car, plane and water (river cruise). And all foreigners have to pay a K25,000 fee to enter the ancient archaeology zone.
Daw Khin Moh Moh Aung, a local resident, said, ”We welcome whatever they decide that it is good and beneficial for our regional development.
“But one thing to consider before they do anything is security, which is very important, not only for local people but also for tourists, because we want to be happy no matter who comes to visit our land.