The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world, welcomes an average of one million visitors a year.
The head of the Decentralised Department of Culture in Cuzco, Ricardo Ruiz Caro, told Peru’s state-run Andina news agency the famous ruins receive an average of 3300 Peruvian and foreign tourists each day.
This is why authorities are planning a series of efforts to better “balance” the visits and relieve congestion at the citadel, he said.
“We want to use the time more efficiently, (and) the load capacity study that is being finalised establishes that just two of the more than 12 hours of daylight we have are the ones that are intensively used,” Ruiz Caro said.
He ruled out the possibility of establishing a schedule of night visits to Machu Picchu because it is a very sensitive nature zone from a biological and environmental point of view.
“It would have to be analysed, whether nocturnal use would alter living systems. We believe that in the short term there’s no chance of a nocturnal schedule,” he said.
He also said the large number of visitors who come to the monument is not the problem, but rather the way they are handled.
“Under current conditions, which have not changed in nearly 40 years, we’re very close to the limit of what is reasonable to receive for tourist visits. But we understand that when (there is) a new management model, where the tourist space is multiplied, the number can vary substantially.”
Ruiz Caro emphasised the high number of visitors generates a significant amount of local business and jobs, and he said “just putting in place a policy that limits the number of visitors … creates a problem of lost opportunities for the rest of society”.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee agreed at its 39th meeting in Bonn, Germany, this month to put off until 2017 its evaluation of whether to place Machu Picchu on its list of endangered heritage sites.
The committee agreed to send three missions to Peru over the next two years to evaluate the actions taken by local authorities. The first of these missions will arrive in October, the second in May 2016 and the third in the last quarter of next year.
The international organisation has offered local authorities two years to make adjustments according to a series of observations presented concerning preserving the famous Inca ruins.
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