Peru’s government will help repair the privately owned rail line that takes tourists to the Machu Picchu ruins in a bid to limit economic losses for the country that could reach $800 million.
The government is providing manpower to help rehabilitate the flood-damaged tracks, which may not be operating normally for seven to eight weeks, Deputy Transport Minister Hjalmar Marangunich said. Ferrocarril Transandino SA, a unit of Orient Express Hotels Ltd., manages the rail line to Machu Picchu.
The decrease in tourism could cost Peru’s economy as much as $800 million, equivalent to 0.63 percent of gross domestic product, according to Jose Marsano, a researcher at the Lima- based Tourism Observatory of Peru. The government is looking at ways to use more helicopters to ferry tourists to the site until the rail line reopens, Marangunich said in an interview.
“Machu Picchu is central to the regional economy so we have made the railway repairs a priority,” Marangunich said from Lima.
The Inca hiking trail about 7,700 feet above sea level, closed after torrential rains trigged landslides last month, will be reopened when the weather improves, he said. The trail serves as the second major access point to the ruins.
About 4,000 tourists were evacuated by helicopter from Machu Picchu last week after the longest period of heavy rain in 20 years in Peru’s southern Andes triggered landslides. An Argentine tourist and her Peruvian guide were killed Jan. 26 after a landslide on the Inca trail.
About 858,000 tourists a year visit the 15-century Inca ruins, according to the Tourism Observatory.