Peru announced Monday that it is considering temporarily closing the historic site of Machu Picchu. Residents have campaigned for four days against what they call the privatization of ticket sales to the world's most visited Inca site. Because of these protests, nearly 700 tourists had to be evacuated on Saturday.
Culture Minister Leslie Ortega said protest leaders suggested closing the site for safety reasons. “We will evaluate the group’s demands,” Ortega told Peru’s public broadcaster. “It will be painful for everyone.”
Opponents of privatization began a major strike on Thursday against the Culture Ministry's decision to use a private intermediary to sell tickets online. According to activists, Joinnus earns approximately 3 million euros annually in commissions through the new system.
Many businesses have been closed since Thursday, and the railway company Ferrocarril Transandino closed connections to the site on Friday due to the demonstrations.
Reducing the flow of tourists
The government announced that it wants to stop the flow of tourists to Machu Picchu, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1983, through a new sales system. Peru fears that the Inca settlement will be damaged by the surplus of visitors and will be removed from the UNESCO list.
The city was built in the 15th century amidst a tropical rainforest and consists of approximately two hundred buildings. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world come to Peru to see Machu Picchu.
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