Peru ponders Machu Picchu footfall levels despite breaking heritage guidelines
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Peru ponders Machu Picchu footfall levels despite breaking heritage guidelines

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Peruvian authorities continue to look for new ways to capitalise on Machu Picchu's popularity as a visitor attraction, having revealed the remote ancient site is welcoming an average of one million visitors every year, breaching conservation guidelines.

Speaking to Peru’s state-run Andina news agency, Ricardo Ruiz Caro, head of the Decentralized Department of Culture in Cuzco said the famous ruins draw around 3,300 visitors a day, adding that authorities are planning a series of efforts to better "balance" the visits and relieve congestion at the citadel.

Calls to extend the opening hours of the country’s most famous landmark to meet demand were met with concern last year over increased visitor footfall damaging the ancient ruins. A 2012 conservation report suggested adding the site to the World Heritage in danger list, stating that the imposed 2,500 visitor daily limit has been “exceeded on numerous occasions”, something backed up by the figures touted by the Decentralized Department of Culture.

Caro ruled out the possibility of establishing a schedule of night visits to the site, saying that such trips could damage the local environment, which is a very sensitive nature zone.

"Under current conditions, which have not changed in nearly 40 years, we're very close to the limit of what is reasonable to receive for tourist visits,” said Caro. “But we understand that when (there is) a new management model, where the tourist space is multiplied, the number can vary substantially,"

Earlier in July, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee agreed at its meeting in Bonn, Germany, to put off until 2017 an evaluation of whether or not to place Machu Picchu on its list of endangered heritage sites. Instead three trips to the wonder will happen over the next two years to evaluate what measures are being taken by local authorities, the first of these to come in October, the second in May 2016 and the third in Q4 2016.

One idea from Peruvian officials trying to draw traffic away from the site, is to create a historical site to rival that of Machu Picchu, in the form of the Chachapoya ruins of the northern “cloud people”, which is largely unexplored due to inaccessibility and lack of general awareness.

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Peruvian authorities continue to look for new ways to capitalise on Machu Picchu's popularity as a visitor attraction, having revealed the remote ancient site is welcoming an average of one million visitors every year, breaching conservation guidelines.
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