Vice-Minister of Tourism evaluating nighttime Machu Picchu tours

Vice-Minister of Tourism Pablo López de Romaña Cáceres said Monday that his Ministry is currently evaluating the possibility of organizing night circuits for tourists to visit Machu Picchu, Peru’s sacred Inca citadel and top tourist attraction.

“We’re planning a new presentation for the citadel, with lights,” said Cáceres. “We don’t want the site to be too saturated with tourists, making it virtually impossible to take a photograph. This has been a good year, and we want the next year to be even better.”

According to Cáceres’ plan, visiting hours will be extended to include night tours and visits as of December 2009, or at the latest by 2010.

Tourists can currently visit the citadel from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Last year, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee requested reinforced monitoring for Peru’s Inca citadel of Machu Picchu expressing grave concern over the governance of the site, the overflow of tourists, and imminent risks of landslides, deforestation and especially fires.

According to the UNESCO, one-third of the forests and underbrush in the protected area surrounding Machu Picchu have been affected by fire, often set by local farmers attempting to clear chacra of undergrowth. In 1997, a fire destroyed vegetation immediately surrounding the ruins and reached the lowest terraces of the site.

And, the ruins face many threats related to unregulated and expanding tourism, the uncontrolled growth of hotels and restaurants in Aguas Calientes — which is putting great pressure on the site’s erosion-prone banks.

The site’s inclusion to the new list of world wonders has set off an unprecedented increase in the number of visitors, totaling a record-breaking 800,158 in 2007.

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