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Machu Picchu Reopened To Tourists With This Massive Performance But It Doesn’t Mean You Can Visit Just Yet

All around the world some of the most popular attractions have been shuttered for months because of the Coronavirus pandemic. With planes grounded and borders closed, few of us have been able to make those once in a lifetime trips.

With the fall in travel, entire communities are suffering as tourist dollars dry up and industries succumb to the economic effects of the pandemic. In Peru, a country heavily reliant on tourism, things are finally starting to improve as it appears the country has started to see a decrease in Covid-19 cases.

As the country reopened to international travel last month, it’s now reopening one of its most popular tourist attractions – Machu Picchu.

Peru’s famous Machu Picchu has reopened and is welcoming travelers for the first time tin eight months.

The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of Peru’s tourist sites, reopened Sunday with an ancient ritual after a nearly eight-month lockdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Today, Machu Picchu opens. It opens with (health and safety) protocols, it opens to say that we are reactivating ourselves but with responsibility and great prudence, because we see everything happening in the world” with the pandemic, Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Rocio Barrios said in a speech.

For safety reasons, however, only 675 tourists will be able to access the site per day, just 30 percent of the number of visitors pre-pandemic. The number of Coronavirus cases has been steadily decreasing in Peru, and tourists will be expected to maintain social distancing.

The first train of tourists arrived Sunday morning at Machu Picchu Pueblo, the village closest to the citadel, after a 90-minute journey along the Urubamba River from the ancient Inca village of Ollantaytambo.

Opening Machu Picchu to the world shows “that we Peruvians are resilient,” Barrios told the AFP.

To celebrate the reopening, officials hosted a massive celebration with traditional roots.

Peruvian authorities organized an Incan ritual to thank the gods on Sunday as the major tourist attraction once again welcomed visitors. The massive celebration was meant as an act of gratitude to Incan gods for welcoming the reopening.

Dozens of Indigenous performers and dancers welcomed a cadre of travelers with music and dance and officials orchestrated an incredible light show.

The pandemic has had a devastating effect on Peruvians – especially those dependent on tourism.

Ernesto Benavides / Getty Images

Tens of thousands of people in the mountainous Cusco region rely on visitors for their livelihoods and have suffered due to the Coronavirus lockdown closure this year.

Dozens of hotels, restaurants and tourism-related businesses throughout the region went bankrupt by the time a strict mandatory virus lockdown that lasted more than 100 days was lifted in July. Before the pandemic there were 80 hotels of various types in Ollantaytambo, a town with an imposing Inca stone fortress located at the end of the road from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

Taxi driver Eberth Hancco, who works at the airport of the city of Cusco, the former capital of the Inca empire, was among those affected.

“The situation has been very bad, because Cusco depends on tourism,” he told the BBC.

Just a few weeks ago, the park had welcomed one lucky traveler who had the ruins all to himself.

A Japanese tourist who made it to Peru just before the pandemic hit became the first person to have exclusive access to the park. Jesse Takayama had been stuck in Peru for seven months since the country had closed its borders.

In a video first reported by The Guardian, Jesse Takayama shared his immense gratitude for being allowed to visit the ancient Incan city – which had long been one of his dreams.

Peru’s Minister of Culture, Alejandro Neyra, said at a press conference that “He [Takayama] had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter. The Japanese citizen has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.” Talk about a once in a lifetime experience. 

Neyra went on to add that this really was a rare moment and that Takayama only received access after submitting a special request to the local tourism authority. 

In an Instagram post about his special access, Takayama said that “Machu Picchu is so incredible! I thought I couldn’t go but many people asked the government. I’m the first one to visit Machu Picchu after lockdown!”

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