Machu Picchu Prepares to Reopen After Mudslides
The government also announced that they will slash prices on airfares and hotel rooms in an attempt to lure more travelers to the nearby Incan city of Cuzco.
Officials estimated that closing Machu Picchu could cost the Peruvian tourism industry up to $400 million and 15,000 jobs. So what steps are they taking to ensure that the attraction will be open?
An estimated 600,000 people travel to Peru each year to see Machu Picchu, the 15th century Incan citadel and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
But all tourist activities were brought to a halt recently when torrential downpours and landslides washed away parts of the railway that connects Machu Picchu to Cuzco.
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When this happened, roughly 4,000 travelers were stranded in nearby villages and had to be airlifted out. Without the train, there are only two ways to get in—or out—of Machu Picchu. You can go by helicopter, or make a perilous 28-mile trek through the mountains and jungles.
Repairs to the railway are on track to finish by early April and an alternate road route could open in about three weeks, but officials are looking at this as an opportunity to rethink their strategy. To avoid putting all their eggs in one basket, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism has started a new campaign to promote tourism to Cuzco and surrounding attractions.
Cuzco, located about 50 miles southeast of Machu Picchu, is the historic capital of the Inca Empire and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The promotion began this weekend for domestic tourists and includes 50 percent discounts on hotel rooms and flights to Cuzco.
The offer brought more than 8,000 tourists to Cuzco last weekend and will open up to international travelers next week.
By Dan Bence for PeterGreenberg.com.