The Government announced in early May that it would try to revive tourism by enabling free entry to nature reserves and archaeological sites, including Machu Picchu.
Those responsible for the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu are designing health protocols to reopen in July this jewel of Peruvian tourism, which has been closed for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The protocols are being fine-tuned in coordination with all the corresponding instances to be able to reopen Machu Picchu in the context of this pandemic situation to avoid any contagion,” the head of the archaeological park told AFP by telephone, José Pretty.
“We are currently evaluating (the date). In theory, the reopening will be on July 1, but it is being assessed, “he added.
The protocols include the mandatory use of masks, the distance between people and hand washing at the time of entry, said the official.
“Definitely everyone is going to have to have a mask, they are going to have to wash their hands before and clean shoes,” explained Bastante.
“We have been at zero tourists since March 16 (…), no tourist has agreed to Machu Picchu,” he said.
The stone citadel built some 600 years ago, visited by 1.5 million tourists in 2019, now remains empty with very few staff.
“The park during the state of emergency has been left with the minimum and necessary personnel to avoid deterioration. An archaeologist has been in charge of maintenance, “explained Quite a bit.
Since the citadel was opened to tourism in 1948, it had only closed its doors on two occasions: for two months in 2010 when a barrage destroyed a section of the railway, and now by COVID-19, for three months.
The Peruvian Government reinforced surveillance in May in Machu Picchu for fear of archaeological thefts in the place, considered a World Cultural Heritage Site by Unesco since 1983.
During this quarantine, the PeruRail railway company has suspended passenger service to Machu Picchu, declared in 2007 as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World in a worldwide internet survey.
PeruRail and the municipality of the town of Machu Picchu are also developing health protocols for the arrival of Peruvian and foreign tourists, once visits to the citadel are resumed.
72 km from Machu Picchu is Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire, which has also seen tourism collapse, one of the primary sources of income for its inhabitants.
The Peruvian government announced in early May that it would try to revive tourism by enabling free entry to nature reserves and archaeological sites, including Machu Picchu, for Peruvian public employees, children and the elderly for the remainder of this year.
Before the health emergency, Peruvians paid S / 112 (the US $ 30, half that of foreigners) to enter the stone citadel, which stands on top of a green mountain.
The Ministry of Commerce and Tourism (Mincetur), at the forefront of the initiative, is thus trying to promote one of the activities most affected by the pandemic, which slowed the arrival of foreign visitors to the country.
This year, Peruvian tourism has reported losses of about $ 3.35 billion, according to Prime Minister Vicente Zeballos. Between January and May, the reception of foreign visitors contracted by approximately 53%.
Peru is confined, with closed airports and restricted shops, since March 16.
In addition to 55 archaeological sites, it will be free for some Peruvians to enter 22 natural reserves in the Amazon.
Tourist sites will apply a biosecurity protocol when they receive visitors again. The Government will allocate 5.8 million dollars for this purpose for Inca monuments and the US $ 2.9 million for natural areas.