Hundreds of tourists evacuated from Machu Picchu, Peru –

Hundreds of tourists evacuated from Machu Picchu, Peru –

Nearly seven hundred tourists were evacuated from the former Inca settlement at Machu Picchu on Saturday, the Peruvian government reported. They were taken by train to the nearby town of Ollantaytambo after residents protested against the privatization of ticket sales for the archaeological complex.

Opponents began a major strike on Thursday against the Culture Ministry's decision to use a private intermediary to sell tickets online. According to activists, Joynos earns up to $3.2 million (nearly 3 million euros) annually in commissions through the new system. Darwin Baca, former mayor of Machu Picchu, said: “We are against the systematic privatization of Machu Picchu. The organizations are demanding the cancellation of the contract with Joynos.”

Many businesses have been closed since Thursday, and the railway company Ferrocarril Transandino closed connections to the site on Friday due to the demonstrations.

The government announced that it wants to stop the flow of tourists to Machu Picchu, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1983, through a new sales system. Peru fears that the Inca settlement will be damaged by the surplus of visitors and will be removed from the UNESCO list.

The city was built in the 15th century amidst a tropical rainforest and consists of approximately two hundred buildings. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world come to Peru to see Machu Picchu.

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