Welcome to Machu Picchu – please wait your turn.
Peru’s top tourist destination will be capping daily visitor capacity at just 25 percent of its former occupancy upon reopening in July. The ancient Incan site has been closed to the public since March following the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Machu Picchu is currently slated to open at a yet-unannounced date in July, news agency Agence France-Press (AFP) reported on Monday, citing Peruvian officials.
Jean Paul Benavente, governor of the Cusco region, told the outlet that just 675 tourists will be allowed to enter each day, in a bid to promote social distancing and enforce new health safety measures. Guide-led tour groups will be limited to seven visitors, and masks will be required.
The UNESCO World Heritage site was said to draw between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors a day before the COVID-19 health crisis, with well over 1 million people visiting each year.
The pandemic has hit the Peruvian travel industry hard; about 100,000 people in Cusco are employed in the tourism sector, the AFP reports. Peruvian Prime Minister Vicente Zeballos said that the national tourism industry has already lost about $3.3 billion this year.
According to the U.S. Embassy in Peru, government leaders in Peru have closed the nation’s borders and restricted all international travel since March 16. Peruvians are expected to resume flying once again in July or August, per the AFP, though it remains unclear when foreign tourists can return again.
Hopefully, future visitors will have nothing but respect for Machu Picchu’s proactive new COVID-19 guidelines and the dream destination itself.
In January, the site reportedly installed cameras and began using drones to better observe tourists after six guests were detained for allegedly damaging a portion of the 15th-century Incan citadel, as well as defecating at the site’s Temple of the Sun.
The semicircular Temple of the Sun is thought to be one of the most sacred structures at the Incan citadel, as worshippers were believed to have made offerings to the sun within its walls.
Fox News’ Michael Bartiromo contributed to this report.