Overtourism prompts Machu Picchu restrictions
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It’s on many people’s travel bucket list, but now access to Peru’s famous Machu Picchu has become more strictly regulated.
Due to the large numbers heading there with thousands of visitors a day in recent years, officials at the 15th century Incan mountaintop citadel have introduced a new ticketing policy this year.
Amid infrastructure fears about its ability to cope with the large footfall, tourists have to book hour-specific time slots, entering from 6am to 2pm and are only allowed to stay there for up to four hours.
People also have to arrive at the Unesco World Heritage site within an hour of their entry time or they will not be allowed to visit.
So if they have booked the 12pm slot, they must arrive before 1pm to get in and all tourists must be out by 5.30pm.
The latest ticketing structure is aimed at controlling the flow of people and preventing the bunching of crowds in the high-altitude settlement.
Before the new policy was introduced, visitors booked for either a morning (6am-12pm) or afternoon slot (12pm-5.30pm) – periods brought in in 2017.
The price of tickets remains the same, with the cost at 152 Peruvian sols (£35) for one adult.
Many visitors have tended to head to Peru’s most popular tourist attraction in the early morning to spend more time there.
But now officials are trying to encourage visiting later in the day with special incentives on offer.
Visitors who enter the citadel in the second period (9am-12pm) will have free access to the on-site museum Manuel Chavez Ballon, and those who choose to enter in the third time span (after 12pm) can enter the archaeological site Raqchi for free.
Tickets must be booked through the official Machu Picchu website, a tour operator or the site’s office in Cusco.
Last year, Sarah Miginiac, from adventure company G Adventures, told CNN the main issue at the Incan landmark was too many people trying to gain access.
“There isn’t the infrastructure around it,” she said.
Officials hope the new ticketing system will control tourism at the site, ease transport pressures and also encourage visitors to head to other Peruvian spots.
Ms Miginiac stressed a lasting solution needed to be found to control tourism at Machu Picchu.
She said: “[The government] definitely need to make sure that whatever solution is going to be found to access Machu Picchu is actually a solution that will enable growth for the future as well, and not only for the current amount of passengers.”