Machu Picchu expands visitor capacity in 2024 to increase tourism

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Peru’s iconic Machu Picchu, often referred to as “the lost city of the Incas,” is set to undergo a significant change in the new year. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983, the 15th-century citadel has captivated the world with its rich history and breathtaking architecture. Recently, local government officials announced plans to increase the daily visitor limit, a move aimed at revitalizing the country’s tourism industry post-pandemic.

Starting January 1, 2024, Machu Picchu will open its gates to a higher number of guests, allowing up to 4,500 visitors per day. Additionally, on specific days, this number may increase to 5,600, signaling a shift from the previous daily cap of 3,800. The decision comes as Peru seeks to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its tourism sector. In 2020, the country welcomed 4.5 million visitors, a number that plummeted to an expected 2.2 million by the end of 2023.

The move to increase visitor capacity is a strategic effort by Peruvian authorities to boost tourism, a crucial economic driver for the nation. However, it is noteworthy that civil unrest earlier in the year led to the temporary closure of Machu Picchu. As of last month, the U.S. Department of State maintained a level 2 advisory on travel to Peru, emphasizing the importance of staying informed about the situation.

Despite the increase in visitor numbers, conservation remains a top priority for officials. Machu Picchu, being a state-owned Historic Sanctuary, benefits from the protection of Peru’s national protected areas system and is safeguarded by a robust legal framework for both cultural and natural heritage. UNESCO emphasizes the integral role Machu Picchu plays in Peru’s cultural and natural legacy.

The Ministry of Culture, responsible for overseeing the preservation of the site, has assured the public that strict measures will be implemented to ensure the integrity of Machu Picchu. Increased enforcement of proper entry times and adherence to rules will be a focus, with officials urging visitors to purchase tickets in advance through the official website. The cost of entry remains approximately $42.

As Machu Picchu prepares to welcome more visitors in the coming year, Peru strives to strike a delicate balance between reviving its tourism industry and preserving the historical and cultural significance of this ancient marvel. The decision to expand daily visitor limits reflects a commitment to adapting to changing circumstances while ensuring that Machu Picchu remains an enduring symbol of the Inca civilization for generations to come.

(Source: Michael Cappetta | Travel + Leisure)

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