Record breaking 1.1 million tourists visited Machu Picchu in 2012

Record breaking 1.1 million tourists visited Machu Picchu in 2012

Visitors to Peru’s most famous archeological site, the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu, surpassed one million tourists for the first time ever in 2012.

The number of visitors to Machu Picchu surpassed a record 1 million people in 2012The record-breaking figure of 1,114,434 visitors  appears in the annual  totals published by the Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism (MINCETUR).

But the million+ Machu Picchu milestone — an average of more than 3,000 people per day — has received little publicity or fanfare.

Perhaps that’s because for years UNESCO and Peru’s Ministry of Culture have been at odds with MINCETUR and Peru’s private tourism sector over how many tourists should be allowed to enter Machu Picchu.

The UNESCO-sponsored Master Plan for Machu Picchu in 2001 called for no more than 917 visitors per day – and no more than 385 visitors at any one time.  Meanwhile, the National Institute of Culture — now under the Culture Ministry — recommended a maximum carrying capacity of 2,000 visitors. Peru’s central government advocated in 2002 for 3,400, and the parties settled in 2008 on a daily limit of 2,500 visitors.

But in recent years, Peru’s tourism sector has pushed hard to raise the limit. Peru’s Tourism Ministry contended in a 2011 report that Machu Picchu could handle up to 5,479 visitors per day, setting up a verbal confrontation with then-Culture Minister Susana Baca.

Peru risks the wrath of UNESCO, which could add Peru’s top tourist attraction to an infamous list of endangered sites.


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Authored by: Rick Vecchio

Rick Vecchio, Fertur’s director of development and marketing, was educated at the New School for Social Research and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for Pacifica Radio WBAI and as a daily reporter for newspapers in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. Then in 1996, he decided it was time to realize a life-long dream of traveling to Peru. He never went back. While serving as Peru country manager for the South American Explorers from 1997-1999, he fell in love with Fertur's founder, Siduith Ferrer, and they married. Over the next six years, he worked as a correspondent for The Associated Press. Meanwhile, Siduith built the business, which he joined in January 2007. Now he designs custom educational and adventure tour packages for corporate and institutional clients, oversees Fertur’s Internet platform and occasionally leads special trips, always with an eye open for a good story to write about.

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