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
"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
Against Management Plans
Independent travellers do not wish to hike in
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
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.