Protesters Block Access To Machu Picchu, Tourists Left Stranded

The protests are taking place in response to a new ticketing system that many fear will privatise access to the UNESCO World Heritage Site
Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983
Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983SL-Photography/Shutterstock

A place where history, culture, and nature blend into a perfect cocktail, Peru is every traveller's dream destination. If you're a history buff who seeks out heritage structures built by ancient civilisations, Machu Picchu in Peru should be on your bucket list. A 15th-century citadel built by the Incas on a lush green mountain ridge 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level sits at the heart of the Machu Picchu sanctuary that was enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

The site has always been a tourist draw. However, protests in Peru have meant that tourists are unable to access one of South America's most popular heritage sites. It has also left several travellers stranded. Without rail service, tour companies had to adjust the itinerary of their visits. According to Peru Culture Minister Leslie Urteaga, the disturbance is costing the Machu Picchu site approximately $262,590 (1 million Peruvian soles) in lost income every day.

A New Ticketing System

The protests are taking place in response to a new ticketing system. Train services to the ancient sites high in the Andes have been suspended since Saturday due to safety concerns about activists blocking the railway line.

The Culture Ministry of Peru launched the new online ticketing system for all Peruvian tourist destinations in January. Critics say this was a move towards the privatisation of Machu Picchu. In a press conference this week, Culture Minister Leslie Urteaga stated that while she is open to dialogue, the new system will go ahead as planned.

Issues With Too Many Tourists

Agencies in charge of the site's care and preservation have also warned of overcrowding, citing oversold tickets owing to an online system.

The site has been suffering due to overcrowding and in the past, the government had taken several measures In 2019, a new ticketing system was introduced which would allow visitors only an hour to explore the lost city.

In 2020, the Ministry of Culture of Peru deported five tourists and held back one after they were caught damaging parts of Machu Picchu. According to the authorities, the group fractured a lithic element that broke off a wall, causing it to fall from a height of approximately six metres (20 feet) and crack the floor.

About Machu Picchu

The site features impressive dry-stone structures that seem to have been sculpted out of the mountains themselves and adhere to astronomical alignments. This surreal feat of architecture and its setting in the intersection of the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon Basin lends it an almost mythical reputation. It is still a mystery as to what exact use the structures were put to before being abandoned in the 16th century after the Spanish conquest.

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