01 February 2024

Access to Machu Picchu cleared as government backtracks on ticket plan

01 February 2024

Peru’s government has backtracked on plans to outsource the sale of entry tickets to Machu Picchu to a private company after a week of protests.

Campaigners blocked access to the country’s most famous tourist attraction and rail service to the area was suspended.

Despite Wednesday’s resolution, the streets, hotels and restaurants around the site remained almost deserted.

Eleven days after the government announced the change in the ticketing system, which had been in state hands for 15 years, the contract questioned by the local tourism sector was terminated.

This seems like the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, you hardly see any people

Peru’s minister of culture Leslie Urteaga, who had alleged irregularities and a loss of 1.8 million dollars (£1.4 million) for tickets not reported by state offices, finally agreed to the protesters’ request after meeting with the regional president of Cusco and the mayor of the Machu Picchu district.

The authorities committed to moving ticket sales to an online platform managed by the national government and rescinded the contract with Joinnus, the virtual ticket sales firm owned by one of the wealthiest economic groups in Peru who had taken over the service in mid-January.

Rail service to the area — which had been suspended on Friday — promptly resumed, but visitor arrivals were still slowed to a trickle.

“This seems like the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, you hardly see any people,” said Roger Monzon, an employee at the Inkas Land hotel in the Machu Picchu district, an 18-room building housing only two tourists from Portugal.

Tourism is the main economic activity in Cusco, with more than 200,000 people having direct jobs in the sector. Before the protests, up to 4,500 visitors entered Machu Picchu every day.

There are no official figures on potential losses during the first week of protests, but some tourism unions estimate the damage at about 4.7 million dollars (£3.7 million).

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