Machu Picchu Visitor Increase Under Review As Part of Revamp

Machu Picchu Visitor Increase Under Review As Part of Revamp

With demand for Machu Picchu tickets surging, Cusco authorities are considering boosting the maximum number of daily visitors — possibly to pre-pandemic levels.

The move comes amid a general overhaul of operations to improve how tourists are greeted and treated upon arrival to the bustling town located in the gorge below the Inca Citadel.

“We have decided to form a subcommittee, which is tasked with evaluating the imminent increase of visitors to 5,940, as warranted to visit Machu Picchu,” said Hubert Quisocala, the secretary of the Technical Committee of the Machu Picchu Management Unit.

The daily limit for visitors currently stands at 4,044 people to safeguard and prevent excessive wear and tear on the historic sanctuary.

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Last year, Peru broke from the long-standing system of controlled ticket sales and made 1,000 tickets per day available for direct sale at a box office in Machupicchu Pueblo, the town below Machu Picchu.

Addressing the Surging Demand and Fixing a Broken System

But this new system hasn’t worked out so well.

Over the last several months, Machupicchu Pueblo (also known as Aguas Calientes) has witnessed sprawling and disorderly lines of tourists who anticipated securing same-day entry, only to be met with the disappointment of sold-out tickets.

The chaotic lack of supply to meet demand has spawned other problems.

Three American tourists were detained last week after they were caught trying to enter the citadel with fake entry tickets, allegedly sold to them by an unscrupulous freelance guide, who was later arrested and charged with running a counterfeit ticket operation.

Meanwhile, visitors who bought their tickets well in advance have enjoyed their tours of Machu Picchu in peace, ironically with hardly any crowds, a fact that isn’t lost on Secretary Quisocala.

“There are moments when we notice that our sanctuary is empty, yet there are queues,” he told reporters.

That’s why the Technical Committee of the Machu Picchu Management Unit needs to carefully assess not only the feasibility of a 50% increase in visitor capacity but whether it’s really necessary, he added.

Machu Picchu Tickets Can Be Bought In Person One Day in Advance

Last week, the Ministry of Culture announced that it was changing the system to address the problem of long lines. From now on, those 1,000 tickets will be sold one day before the visit, from 3:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Starting today, Aug. 15, visitors can also get online to make a reservation for the direct purchase of these 1,000 tickets up to 48 hours in advance and subject to availability.

The tickets can then be paid for and picked up in person at one of five ticket windows in Machupicchu Pueblo the day before the visit.

Peru knows from past experience that preservation of the site is supposed to come first, lest it face the wrath of UNESCO and the renewed threat of Machu Picchu landing on the black list of endangered cultural patrimony sites.

“We cannot put this wonder of the world at risk,” Quisocala emphasized. “There is a technical analysis that must be conducted, and therefore this subcommittee should promptly present an opinion … and to make this request to the Ministry of Culture so that it can be increased, to really demonstrate that we deserve this allocation of 5,940 visitors per day.”

Machu Picchu saw its busiest time so far this year during the last week of July when 26,319 visitors toured the ruins. Among them were 14,065 international visitors, and 12,254 national visitors, including 819 locals from Cusco who entered free of charge on Sunday, July 30. It was a perk offered during the long holiday weekend in celebration of Peru’s Independence Day.

The day with the highest turnout was July 25, with a total of 3,923 visitors. That number fell within the permitted daily limit of 4,044 visitors, according to Alicia Fernández Flórez, the head of the Machu Picchu archaeological park.

Machu Picchu with small groups of tourists scattered sporadically across the sprawling ruins. 
(Photo by LoggaWiggler on Pixabay)

Don’t Wait, Buy Your Machu Picchu Tickets Ahead of Time!

If there is anything that travelers should take away from this news, it is this: Book your Machu Picchu tickets well in advance!

For more information Contact Fertur with Whatsapp or with the Contact Us form.

Some recent history of conservation efforts at Machu Picchu

In 2017, after years of talks, a comprehensive review of foot traffic at Machu Picchu was completed while the Peruvian government put into effect a fresh Master Plan. The highest number of people allowed in daily was boosted to 5,940 — much higher than UNESCO’s desired cap of 2,500. Simultaneously, more stringent regulations were imposed to safeguard the site.

As part of that new system, visitor entries were distributed across the day, permitting 3,267 people in the a.m. and 2,673 in the p.m. In addition, a four-hour time constraint was established.

During the pandemic, the number of visitors to Machu Picchu went down to zero. Then over the course of months, Peru slowly started to allow tourists back in. Then early last year, as Peru and the world emerged from the Covid-19 crisis, a debate raged about how aggressively Peru should ramp up the visitor limits.

In April 2022, then-Machu Picchu Park Director Jose Miguel Bastante boldly stated that Machu Picchu’s conservation and careful management should trump the pent-up demands of the tourism sector.

He was an excellent park director — past tense.

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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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