Culture Minister puts kibosh on increasing visitor limits for the Inca Citadel:
There will still be 1,000 Machu Picchu tickets available every day for in-person purchase. However, starting Monday (September 4, 2023), visitors will have to pick up the tickets a day in advance of touring the Inca Citadel.
Minister of Culture Leslie Urteaga says this is how Peru will fix the ironic scenario that has been playing out all year:
While hordes of frustrated, angry and distraught tourists are told in the town below that tickets are sold out, up in Machu Picchu the actual number of visitors doesn’t reach the maximum daily limit. The sanctuary isn’t even particularly crowded.
“The daily capacity of 4,044 that we have to date has not yet been filled,” Urteaga told RPP news radio on Friday.
She said that this is the reason the government has no plans to heed demands from a segment of local tourism operators and politicians in Cusco to increase the visitor limit to nearly 6,000 per day.
“We need to work on improving the measures for a positive visit,” she said, “for conservation of our heritage. And to also be at the forefront, as all the World Heritage Sites are, where visits and reservations are done through a digital platform.”
Under the revamped system
- The in-person tickets can be bought between 3:00 pm and 10:00 pm at the Ministry of Culture office just off the main square.
- A portion of the tickets can be reserved on a first-come first-serve basis on Machu Picchu’s official website up to 48 hours before the visit — in other words, in Cusco before making the train journey.
- In any case, the in-person pick-up of the ticket means the buyer is committed to spending a night in Machupicchu Pueblo, formerly known as Aguas Calientes.
- Presenting a valid ID is obligatory. Tourists must strictly adhere to the entry time stated on their tickets, and if missed, the ticket is rendered void and can’t be reused.
“I invite people who travel to our archaeological sites, and especially to sites as important as Machu Picchu or Kuelap, to plan their trip (and) schedule their trip,” Urteaga said.
The mismanagement and chaos of the same-day ticket sales has been accompanied by the emergence of ticket scalpers and counterfeiters. Urteaga said authorities are investigating the scope of an alleged Machu Picchu “Mafia”. She but did not elaborate.
Her colleague, Tourism Minister Juan Carlos Mathews caused an uproar last month when he reportedly suggested that a “Mafia” was behind the sale of a thousand in-person tickets. The motive, he suggested, was to force tourists to spend the night in Machupicchu Pueblo in substandard accommodations.
Representatives of Machupicchu Pueblo’s hotels and tour operators called for his resignation. They argue that in-person ticket sales serves budget travelers who don’t necessarily have the means to plan their trips months in advance through “conglomerate” travel agencies based in Lima or abroad.