Machu Picchu to reopen with free admission to Peruvians

Lima (AFP) –


Peru will allow some locals free admission to Machu Picchu and other archeological sites in a bid to kickstart its tourist industry, the government said Tuesday.

The South American country's trade and tourism ministry said the move would help boost the sector, which is expected to lose $4 billion this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"To reactivate tourist activity, which has been affected by the spread of COVID-19, we must adapt to new forms of tourism," the ministry said.

Entry to 55 archaelogical sites, as well as 22 reserves and national parks in the Amazon rainforest region, will be free to public service employees, children and pensioners between July and December.

Peru's government is due to ease a nine-week long quarantine on May 24.

More than 1.5 million tourists, mostly from aboard, visited the 15th century stone citadel of Machu Picchu last year, according to official figures.

Peruvians normally pay the equivalent of $30 to enter the site, half the price charged to foreign visitors.

The government has allocated $5.8 million to increase health security measures for visitors to the country's Inca archaelogical sites once they reopen, as well as $2.9 million for national parks.

The government has stepped up security at Machu Picchu, which has been closed since the lockdown began, for fear of archeological thefts from the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Peru has so far registered more than 2,000 COVID-19 related deaths and nearly 70,000 coronavirus infections and since the first case was detected on March 6.