Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Machu Picchu: Effects of Tourism

Effects on different groups of people

Groups that benefit

• Businesses and workers linked directly or indirectly to tourism.

• Cultural groups that receive government support and funding.

• Tour operators.

• Local Council and government who benefit from taxes paid.

• Conservationists. Machu Picchu is preserved as a tourist attraction.

• Local residents who benefit from the wider range of services supported by tourism.

•  Local thieves who view tourists as an easy source of income.

•  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.


Groups that do not benefit

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

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

• Environmentalists. Tourist developments destroy not only the beauty of the site but enable far greater numbers of visitors, which would increase the physical impact on the environment. Tourist trampling erodes footpaths and reduces biodiversity.

• Conservationists. Poorly planned tourist developments can destroy buildings of historic/cultural value.

• Workers unemployed in the winter season.

•  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.