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 News and Comment

The Times October 22, 2005

Facing ruin: Peru acts to save Machu Picchu
Fewer visitors and higher entry charges are part of a 'master plan' to protect the ancient Inca site

PRICES of tickets to enter Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca site in Peru, are to rise by 50 per cent and tourist numbers will be limited to 2,500 a day from January, under new plans proposed by the Peruvian Government.

Tourist officials visiting London this week announced a “master plan” to protect the 14th-century site, regarded as the biggest tourist draw in South America. In recent years, as many as 5,000 people a day have scampered over the ancient ruins, but Unesco earlier this year threatened to put the World Heritage Site on its endangered list unless something was done to limit the potential damage caused by so many visitors.

The new 2,500 limit will be in line with Unesco recommendations. Other plans include increasing the entrance price to Machu Picchu from £11 to £17 and opening up more trekking routes to the site. At the moment there is one principal route, the Inca Trail, which has a limit of 500 people taking the trek, which lasts up to five days. This allocation could be spread over other trekking routes from January, although there is yet to be full agreement on this point.

Manuel Bryce, adviser to the minister of foreign trade and tourism in Peru, in London this week, said: “A final decision on the numbers and prices will be made at the end of November. But it looks very likely that the new rules will come into force in January.”

Michael Pullman, of Cox & Kings, a UK tour operator that features Peru, said: “We’re pleased with the initiatives. It’s a brave move because they are taking a long-term view of sustainable tourism.”

Sarah Bradley, managing director of Journey Latin America, said that she “wholeheartedly” supported the plan.

Tom Chesshyre, Will Hide

Details: Peru Tourist Board (http://www.peru.info/).

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