Machu Picchu: Saving a World Wonder

Peru relies on tourism for much of its capital; Machu Picchu alone brings in roughly $35 million annually. This large scale tourism creates problems within ancient sites because of the excessive traffic and litter that comes with mass amounts of people. The traffic and pollution speeds up the dilapidation of sites, like Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca civilization founded around 1450 CE by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, an Inca ruler. There are several theories as to what Machu Picchu was used for, including a fortress, a sacred site, and an imperial retreat. It was abandoned in the 1500’s when the Incan empire collapsed and was not rediscovered by the Western world until 1911 by Hiram Bingham. Bingham worked with National Geographic to release a series of pictures of the site. This elevated the interest in Peru and Machu Picchu; tourism skyrocketed in the 1920’s and has grown steadily until present day. Machu Picchu has recently been named the seventh ancient wonder of the world.

There are many modern conflicts in Peru over who should manage Machu Picchu and at what governmental level. There is not one government entity whose description this site falls under; the sanctuary surrounding it is so large and the cultural and natural aspects are so intertwined that it overlaps many departments. There is also conflict between local government and institutions like the National Institute of Culture (INC) and the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (INRENA). A ministry needs to be created specifically for handling heritage sites to prevent conflicts within the government and various organizations. With a lack of conflict surrounding the site, legislation can be created easier that will best suit the environmental and cultural aspects of not only Machu Picchu, but of heritage sites across Peru.

Despite the conflicts surrounding Machu Picchu, Peru’s government has recently been attempting to create new rules surrounding tourism at this site to prevent further dilapidation from excessive foot traffic, garbage, and air pollution. Policymakers have the power to create more rules regarding these various pollutions. If buses driving up to the site and disposable food and drinks were eliminated from the site or even just reduced, it would begin to help preserve the area. The stricter rules at this world wonder will most likely lead to other cultural artifacts coming under stricter protection laws. Visitors should still be able to enjoy the site, but if historic sites are not properly managed, a library of information will be lost about ancient cultures.

One thought on “Machu Picchu: Saving a World Wonder

  1. Simeon Pol

    Great read Danielle. I am glad to hear that the government is stepping in to hopefully create a better infrastructure for the site. I wrote about ecotourism and the issues and advantages of it. In this case, it seems that it is already in place and there are still issues. That might be due to the multitude of government control overlap. In some of the case studies, I read it was often better for the local community to control and run the ecotourism aspect due to the fact that they are there year round and can keep numbers small due to their operation capabilities. Do you think the site is too popular for a local run ecotourism project or is it just what the area needs with governmental backing? Do you think it may be good for the local community or should the government bring in their own people to handle the demand of the site? Should Machu Picchu have its yearly visiting number minimized significantly to prevent further damage?


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