Yeah, it sounds weird, but to me this unwary legacy is wasted and not attracting and will not attract the number of tourists that could potentially be if the same mistakes continue to be made. Firstly, arbitrary restrictions are placed on the number of tourists who can enter each day and, secondly, we have made Machu Picchu one of the most expensive monuments to visit in the world. It seems that instead of promoting their visit and benefiting from the virtuous circle of tourism, we Peruvians are determined to carry out efficiently the difficult task of discouraging them.
Regarding the first reason ,why do those who write the national regulations first say that the maximum carrying capacity of Machu Picchu’s historic sanctuary is 2,500 people a day, then in practice they accept almost 4,000 people in the morning shift and from next year they will take three shifts? What changed in such a short time? Obviously nothing. As well as arbitrariness in numbers. This is, of course, a disastrous attitude when it comes to the great motor of National Tourism. Do they not realize that Machu Picchu in Peru is something like the Pyramids in Egypt? Of the total number of people who visit us on holiday, about 70% say that the main reason for stepping on Peruvian soil is to see this sacred site. So, obviously, and you don’t need to be Euclid to notice, setting arbitrary limits goes to the detriment of the sector in general.
The question that we all have to ask ourselves must fall squarely: how do we design experience and engineering to make it possible for 30,000 or 50,000 people a day to enter Machu Picchu preserving the cultural good, ecology and sustainability of the resource in general? For starters, can you? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Examples of ancient monuments that are preserved with religiosity and that at the same time are visited by thousands of people a day there are many in the world. At the Roman Colosseum, for an idea, 20,000 people enter on average every 24 hours. They won’t tell me that the granitic City of Machu Picchu, which is 1,500 years younger and much longer than the Colosseum, resists less traffic. For what reason could this phenomenon be explained? Why is made in Peru? I don’t buy that idea. If Machu Picchu is in danger, as some sound the alarm, it is because it does not invest in the engineering, restoration and maintenance work that this mega construction requires. Nothing more. Which is a sin.
The second problem, and the most important and complicated one to solve because of the big conflicting interests in this melcocha of authorities, entrepreneurs and so on, is the price. It seems that, in the realm of monopolies, oligopolies, vertical integrations and abuses of power, tourism does not escape. Getting to Machu Picchu is an Odyssey, a very expensive one especially for foreigners. For most foreign visitors the cost of visiting the magical lost city is close to us $ 600 (see picture) without counting the passage to Peru, lodging, meals, additional visits and a long et cetera that everyone who has traveled weighs before deciding where to go. How is it going to cost about US$200 to go and come by train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, a stretch of just 30 kilometers? Or how come they charge us$24 for going up and down from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu when Cruz del Sur charges almost the same to go from Lima to Tumbes? The truth is that at these points there is much to answer. The government should promote free competition and curb abuses. A destination at the end is a product and in the globalized world the price is a very important variable when choosing.
If we only thought differently and the sector wanted to change course, another would be history. The good news is that we are in time to make up for the mistakes that have been made for decades. The opportunity is latent and beats stronger than ever. The whole world has positioned itself to this masterpiece of engineering, landscaping, architecture and good taste, as one of the Seven Meccas to which all must pilgrimage at least once in your life. Machu Picchu, among all his awards, holds the title of new Wonder of the world. It was no less than Herodotus, considered the father of Western history, who began by making lists of what must be seen and thus instilled admiration for the extraordinary 2,500 years ago. And this practice has not ceased. Let us not allow some to malograte what has millennia gestating in the world’s imagination, this desire to know the unmatched, this desire to feel part of something fascinating. We should not let only a few benefit from what our ancestors did, we should not let absurd restrictions stop the “momentum” that this beautiful llaqta inca has, we should not let Machu Picchu fall maduro.