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Stages removed after protest in Taunggyi

Workers dismantle stages that were being built for viewing hot-air balloon contests in Taunggyi. (Photo: DVB)

Plans to build stages for viewing Taunggyi’s annual hot-air balloon contests were scrapped on Wednesday following protests by local groups opposed to the commercialization of the event.

The decision was welcomed by protest leaders, who said they called the management of the Cherry Queen Hotel Group to thank them for abandoning the plan.

“I called [hotel manager] Soe Lin when we saw that they were dismantling the stages. He confirmed that the company had decided to take them down and give the area back to the government, so I expressed my appreciation to him and the Shan State government,” protest leader Tin Maung Toe said on Wednesday.

The hotel had planned to offer its guests a package that would have included accommodation at the 200-room hotel and a seat on the stages.

The hotel also said that it had paid 8 million kyat (US$6,200) to construct the stages, which were 80 percent complete, and 12 million kyat ($9,300) for toilets.

The contests are the highlight of the annual Tazaungdaing festival marking the end of the Buddhist Lent period. The event, which will be held this year from 6-14 November, is expected to attracts thousands of visitors to the Shan State capital.