Foreign tourists climbing Mt. Zwekabin on November 9. (Photo: Htwe San Aung/EMG)

Kayin State’s Mount Zwekabin has received many foreign tourists this year although only a few travelled to the well-known landmark in the past decade, according to a local resident.

The resident said the increase in visitors might be due to the cable car project that will transport visitors to the mountain’s peak. Mount Zwekabin now receives more than 300 local visitors and more than 20 foreign visitors per day.

“There is an increase in the number of people who visit Mount Zwekabin this year,” said the officer-in-charge of the Zwekabin monastery construction project.

“Among the local visitors, there is an increase those coming from distant regions. Normally, only local residents living near Hpa-an climb the mountain. Now, there are at least 300 local visitors per day—and that’s only including those who climb from the new road. There may be others who use the old road. Also, the number of foreign tourists is above 20 per day. Eight years ago, there were only six tourists per day. On some days, there were only one or two tourists. The number of arrivals has increased this year. As the cable car project to the mountain is about to start, many of the visitors are interested in the project.”

The US$ 20 million (Ks 19.4 billion) Zwekabin cable car project is led by Penang Sayadaw from Malaysia, Zwekabin Sayadaw and Maebaung Sayadaw. Construction is expected to start at the end of November and will take about a year and a half to complete.

“It’s been awhile since the project was announced. The construction will be done by Buddhist experts from Malaysia and Singapore, as well as Myanmar engineers. We have already collected donations from all over the country for the required fund,” said Tu Tu Myint Thein, spokesperson for the Zwekabin cable car project.

The 700-metre high mountain is located seven miles south of Hpa-an.

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