LIMA, Dec 3 — Peru is sharply boosting access to its top attraction Machu Picchu, officials said Saturday, in an effort to revive tourism that has yet to rebound from the pandemic.

Access to the Inca citadel has been increased to 4,500 per day “and on very specific dates may be increased to 5,600” from January 1, a Culture Ministry statement said.

The site currently allows 3,600 to 3,800 visitors per day. Last September Peru temporarily closed three sectors of Machu Picchu due to the impact of the heavy volume of visitors at the site.

Machu Picchu, 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Cusco, was built in the 15th century at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) on orders from the Inca ruler Pachacutec.

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It is considered a marvel of architecture and engineering and was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1981.

Tourism is key to Peru’s economy, with the country attracting about 4.5 million visitors prior to the Covid pandemic in 2020. It’s expected to finish this year with about half that, 2.2 million.

Known as “the lost city of the Incas,” Machu Picchu was stumbled upon in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham.

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On the silver screen, the character of the adventurer Indiana Jones is partially inspired by Bingham. — AFP