Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Machu Picchu: Attitudes to Management

For Management Plans

  • Alternative Inca Trails are gaining
    popularity with travellers unable or unwilling to book a slot three to six months in advance. These treks can be booked a day or two in advance and can cost less than half as much as a hike on the Inca Trail. This is beginning to spread the economic benefits of tourism more widely throughout the region.

  • Porters welcome the 20kg load limit.

  • The licensing of tour operators should result in improved quality for tourists and better protection for the site. The tour operators who infringe the rules, or offer a bad service will lose their licence to use the Trail.

  • Japanese geologists claim that Machu Picchu could gradually slip off its mountain saddle.

  • Unmanaged growth in tourism is destroying one of the world's premier archeological sites, some planners say.

  • "Just look at the Inca trail that leads to Machu Picchu. It is being worn out, eroded away," said Jorge Pacheco, head of Machu Picchu Management, an umbrella agency coordinating the various agencies running the ancient stone citadel. "Now that only registered tour companies are allowed to offer Inca trail excursions, this will help to ensure that hikers keep to trail conservation rules".

  • Tourists say the numbers of visitors to the citadel are taking the pleasure out of their trip. There are no quiet places left for reflection.

  • "We will now receive 10 percent of ticket receipts from Machu Picchu," Oscar Valencia, the Mayor of Aguas Calientes said. "We can make a dignified town for tourists."

  • The site is remote and difficult to get to, but this is the reason for its remarkable state of preservation. Accessibility should not be improved.



  • Against Management Plans

  • Independent travellers do not wish to hike in organized tours.

  • Travellers unable or unwilling to book a slot three to six months in advance are unable to walk the trail.

  • Peru's National Institute of Culture, which oversees the day-to-day running of Machu Picchu and the Inca trail, says the site can receive many more visitors.

  • "Today there is no threat to Machu Picchu. The site can cope with 3,000 tourists every day," said Fernando Astete, Machu Picchu's administrator.

  • With fewer numbers, tour operators and local businesses may see a decline in profits.

  • Of the 93 tour operators which sold Machu Picchu packages, only 40 have been given licenses to continue operating. This has effectively wiped out many of the cheaper tour operators popular with backpackers and has forced remaining companies to put up their prices.

  • Local workers will lose their jobs.

  • Local thieves will lose the opportunity of stealing from tourists on the overcrowded local train.

  • The regulations have had little positive effect on trail conservation. There is still pollution, waste-disposal problems, and at times overcrowding. Even 500 people every day makes it crowded.

  • Critics say the strong focus on Machu Picchu does little to encourage travellers to visit some of Peru's 15,000 other Inca sites in the area.

  • The site is sacred to the indigenous people who describe the situation: "Since ancient times, this land has been preserved as sacred. The guardian spirits do not want roadways or industry, or people who pollute the land. These are sacred areas. It was there the deities built the ancient city of Machu Picchu." The costs associated with visiting the site, which are geared toward foreign tourists' income levels, make it practically inaccessible to the Inca's descendants.

  • The proposals in a plan (19.4.2005)  are believed to include a daily limit of 2,500 tourists. But environmentalists say that figure is too high and similar to the number of people who troop through Machu Picchu every day.