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Peru's Machu Picchu reopens to tourists

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Peru has had a tough lesson in just how central Machu Picchu is to its tourist industry

Peru's most famous archaeological site, Machu Picchu, has formally reopened after it was closed for two months.

Hundreds of tourists, including US actress Susan Sarandon, took the train to the 15th Century Inca ruin - the most-visited site in Latin America.

Heavy rains and landslides at the end of January cut rail access to the site, trapping some 4,000 tourists.

Peru had lost some $200m (£131m) in revenue because of the closure, Peru's tourism minister told the BBC.

Ruins of the Inca city of Machu Picchu (file image)

The damaged railway line linking the citadel to the rest of Peru was repaired with an urgency rarely seen before, the BBC's Dan Collyns in Peru says.

For all its other tourist attractions, Peru has had a tough lesson in just how central Machu Picchu is to its tourist industry, our correspondent says.

"This incident with the train to Machu Picchu has definitely had an impact on us… I would say our sales have been reduced by 50%," said Bernard Schleien, director of the Latin America For Less travel agency.

FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

Some 90% of Peru's tourist revenue comes from the Cuzco region, where Machu Picchu's two-month closure meant the loss of about 60,000 tourists.

The local chamber of commerce says more than half the population of the regional capital, Cuzco, works directly or indirectly in tourism.

The reopening of Machu Picchu is hugely important, not just for Peru's economy, but also its image abroad, our correspondent says.

Tourists who reached the site were delighted to be able to visit the landmark.

"We've been in Cuzco for the last week, just waiting for Machu Picchu to open," said British traveller Caroline Scott.

"We're really glad we finally made it."

Up to 2,000 tourists a day visit the site.



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In pictures: Machu Picchu reopens
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