Transportation Ministry: Machu Picchu will reopen to tourists in 3 weeks

Minister of Transportation and Communications Enrique Cornejo said Friday he expects Machu Picchu will reopen to tourists in three weeks following torrential rains, floods and mudslides last week that swept away parts of the railway into the sacred Inca citadel.

Cornejo told Radio Programas Peru tourists will be able to bypass blockages between Cusco and Machu Picchu by traveling part of the distance by road and the rest by train. He said they will establish two temporary bridges to help bypass the 10 obstructions that are currently blocking access to the citadel.

Machu Picchu’s only access route, besides hiking, is by train. The railway to the citadel was blocked last week when heavy rainfall, floods and mudslides battered Peru’s southern Andean region.

Peru’s government published a supreme decree on Tuesday prioritizing the repair of the rail line. The government expects repairs to the main rail line to be finished within eight weeks.

The regional president of Cusco, Hugo Gonzales, said in a meeting with Peru’s presidential cabinet on Thursday the damage to infrastructure and agriculture in the department is 680 million soles, about $235 million, daily Gestión reported.

The Peruvian Tourism Observatory estimated the damage will cost tourism operators in the department $400 million.

Tourism is one of Peru’s largest sources of revenue, and Machu Picchu is the main attraction. According to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, the 15th century Inca citadel attracted more than 850,000 tourists in 2008. More than 615,000 of those tourists were foreigners.

The Hotel Association of Peru said four and five star hotels in Cusco are planning on lowering their prices in April in order to attract more Peruvian tourists.

“Unfortunately, due to the episodes that we all know about, hotel reservations have declined and that can’t be avoided,” Gestión reported the associations general manager, Tibisay Monsalve, as saying. “The idea, in general terms, is for hotels and tourism operators to provide low priced offers and promotions for internal tourism.”

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