LIMA – The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, welcomes an average of one million visitors per year, Peruvian authorities said Monday.
The head of the Decentralized Department of Culture in Cuzco, Ricardo Ruiz Caro, told Peru’s state-run Andina news agency that the famous ruins receive an average of 3,300 Peruvian and foreign tourists each day.
He added that that is why authorities are planning a series of efforts to better “balance” the visits and relieve congestion at the citadel.
“We want to use the time more efficiently, (and) the load capacity study that is being finalized establishes that just two of the more than 12 hours of daylight we have are the ones that are intensively used,” he said.
Ruiz Caro ruled out, however, the possibility of establishing a schedule of night visits to Machu Picchu because it is a very sensitive nature zone from the biological and environmental point of view.
“It would have to be analyzed, 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 that 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,” he added.
Ruiz Caro emphasized that the high number of visitors generates a significant amount of local business and jobs, and he said that “just putting in place a policy that limits the number of visitors ... creates a problem of lost opportunities for the rest of society.”
Last week, Unesco’s World Heritage Committee agreed at its 39th meeting in Bonn, Germany, to put off until 2017 its evaluation of whether or not 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 to arrive in October, the second in May 2016 and the third in the last quarter of next year.
The international organization has offered local authorities a period of two years to make adjustments according to a series of observations presented concerning preserving the famous Inca ruins.