In a significant move to rejuvenate its pandemic-stricken tourism industry, Peru has announced a marked increase in the daily visitor limit to Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world's most revered archaeological sites. From January, the cap on tourists will be elevated from the existing limit of 3,800 to 4,500 visitors daily, with a potential surge to 5,600 on select dates.
Reviving the Tourism Sector
The decision embodies Peru's resilience in boosting its tourism industry, which has experienced a considerable decline due to the global health crisis. The country is projected to attract only 2.2 million tourists by the end of the year, signifying a drop of over 50% compared to the pre-pandemic figures.
Maintaining a Delicate Balance
Despite the drive for tourism recovery, officials have underscored that the preservation of the historic sanctuary remains a key concern. Constructed in the 1400s by the Incas, Machu Picchu features three primary structures: Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows.
Concerns for the Heritage Site
There have been worries over the impact of tourism on the site's ancient stonework, even before the announced surge in visitor numbers. The site was temporarily closed earlier this year due to protests that resulted in fatalities. The Peruvian government's decision is a reflection of a delicate equilibrium between the economic recovery in the tourism sector and the conservation of a significant cultural heritage site.