Machu Picchu, Peru’s top tourist destination, welcomed back visitors Sunday after being closed for nearly eight months during the coronavirus pandemic.
The ancient Incan city in the Andes mountains is only allowing access to 675 tourists per day, or only about 30% of the number of tourists before the pandemic hit, AFP News reported.
The Incan citadel, which dates back to the 15th century and sits atop a 7,970-foot mountain, reopened with a light show and Incan ritual.
"Today, Machu Picchu opens. It opens with (health and safety) protocols, it opens to say that we are reactivating ourselves but with responsibility and great prudence because we see everything happening in the world," Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Rocio Barrios said in a speech.
While the global tourism industry as a whole has been rocked by the pandemic, thousands of workers had reportedly lost their income near the citadel alone. Pre-COVID-19, there were 80 hotels in Ollantaytambo, a town in the Cusco region, but now at least half of them have gone bankrupt, Joaquin Randall, head of the local hotel and restaurant association, told AFP.
The ancient city, meanwhile, had previously reopened last month for a single tourist, who was stranded in Peru for nearly seven months during the pandemic. The traveler, Japanese tourist Jesse Katayama, 26, was en route to visit the Inca citadel in March when lockdowns were announced.
Peru had 902,503 coronavirus cases as of Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.