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Peru. Angry tourists protest suspension of Machu Picchu ticket sales

The suspension of Machu Picchu ticket sales has sparked protests among angry tourists and traders in the town closest to the Inca citadel.

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Authorities had recently started limiting the number of visitors to Peru’s tourist gem to reduce attrition, but increased the number of daily visitors from 4,044 to 5,044 in July following complaints from industry.

Friday’s protests took place in nearby Machu Picchu, formerly called Aguas Calientes, where visitors arrive by train before boarding minibuses that ferry them up the ancient site through a narrow mountain pass.

Protesters were angered after tickets to enter Machu Picchu were only sold in nearby Cusco and not Aguas Calientes.

“I paid for my (train) tickets with Inca Rail for a day with a tour guide. We even paid extra for the bus that takes us here to Machu Picchu, where the ruins are and they wouldn’t let us in because we don’t have the ticket to enter,” the Mexican told AFP. Israel Gonzales Rizoo.

The town’s merchants were also very unhappy, with dozens blocking the railway line to prevent the movement of trains.

“We demand the sale of tickets at the offices of the Ministry of Culture of Machu Picchu, and 50% of its totality in person (…) to reactivate our economies,” the traders said in a statement.

This is the second protest in just over two weeks over the lack of tickets to enter the Stone Citadel, Peru’s most visited attraction.

On July 27, available tickets were sold out due to overbooking.

Given the demonstrations this Friday, the Ministry of Culture said it had ordered the continuation of the sale of entrance tickets in person, respecting the limit set to protect the archaeological heritage.

Indeed, over the past two weeks, “average admission to the Llaqta (citadel) of Machu Picchu has remained below admission capacity,” the ministry said in a statement.

The city is located at the foot of the 2,430 meter high mountain on which stands the famous stone citadel built in the 15th century by the Inca emperor Pachacutec.

UNESCO declared the citadel of Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site in 1983. Since then, the organization has asked Peru to comply with a series of guidelines to preserve the place.

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