Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda attracted 445,000 foreign visitors in the first nine months of 2017, the pagoda’s Board of Trustees announced on Saturday.
Thai citizens accounted for the highest portion of foreign visitors this year with 93,000, followed by China with 37,000 visitors. Numbers of visitors from South Korea, Japan, the US, France, and Germany all rose this year.
The pagoda attracted 410,000 foreign visitors in 2016.
The Board of Trustees plans to raise the entrance fee for foreigners from K8,000 to K10,000 starting in December.
Moreover, Myanmar’s Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture is drafting plans to nominate the Shwedagon Pagoda for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
According to historians and archaeologists, the Shwedagon Pagoda was originally built between the 6th and 10th centuries by the Mon people, who dominated what is now Lower Myanmar at the time. It was intermittently repaired and improved by Mon and later Bamar rulers until it reached its current height of 325 feet in 1775.
It has been the most popular Buddhist pilgrimage site in the country and dominated the Yangon skyline for centuries.
Myanmar attracted over two million tourists in the first eight months of this year. In 2016, the country attracted 2.9 million tourists total, making it the second-least visited ASEAN country, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
Myanmar aims to attract over seven million annual visitors by 2020.
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