Cusco tourism campaign attracts 8,000 tourists on first weekend

A joint campaign by Peru’s public and private sectors to promote tourism in Cusco attracted more than 8,000 Peruvian tourists to the former Inca capital last weekend, state news agency Andina reported.

“Right now we have approximate figures of at least 8,000 visitors,” said Orlando Andrade of Cusco’s Chamber of Commerce. “We have noticed it has been successful not only among tourists from Lima, but also Trujillo and Arequipa, especially among workers from the public sector.

“There are return airplane tickets for less than $50, the cheapest in relation to other departments… Visiting Cusco is absolutely attractive.”

The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism announced the “Cusco Pone” campaign last week to promote national tourism to Cusco and surrounding attractions until Machu Picchu – Peru’s sacred Inca citadel and top tourist attraction – is reopened. The campaign provides Peruvian tourists discounts on hotels, airfare and tourism packages. The ministry said the campaign will be extended to visitors from other countries in March.

Tourism activity to Machu Picchu was suspended last Monday following torrential rainfall, mudslides and flooding that blocked the railway into the UNESCO World Heritage Site and stranded some 2,000 tourists at Machu Picchu Pueblo – the town below the citadel.

Repairs to the train line between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu Pueblo are expected to be completed by the beginning of April. Service to Aguas Calientes from the station at Piscacucho (where the trail head to the Inca Trail is located at Km82) is expected to be back up and running before the end of March.

Meanwhile, Peruvian rail firm Ferrocarril Transandino said Monday repairs to the railway between the train station at the Hydroelectric Plant (Km 122) and Machu Picchu Pueblo (Km 110) have been completed, Andina reported.

The train line is part of an alternate route that would take tourists overland northwest of Ollantaytambo and then down past the towns of Santa Rosa and Santa Teresa to the train station at the Hydroelectric Plant. From there, it’s a 10-kilometer train ride to Machu Picchu.

Train service should be up and running by next week, Andina reported, but passengers still will not have access to it until work repairing and upgrading roads connecting Cusco, Santa Teresa and the Hydroelectric plant station is finished and Peru’s National Institute of Culture officially reopens Machu Picchu park to the public.

Going that route includes a bumpy ride, but would reportedly require as few as 8½  hours from Cusco, necessitating two to three days to comfortably tour Machu Picchu.

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