Machu Picchu entrance fee may rise to $100

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Peruvian tourism minister Mercedes Araoz today discussed the measures that may be put into place to preserve Machu Picchu, including further entry controls and the construction of a cable car system, in association with UNESCO and the World Tourism Organization.

“We have to administer the entry system and the administration of tours, as well as the opening hours,” she said, at a ceremony to mark the site’s election as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.

She added that her ministry is working alongside the private sector on several projects, such as the installation of viewpoint at strategic locations and new tour routes around the site.

She ruled out any increase to the entry price for the site, which currently stands at around US$38 for foreigners and $17 for Peruvians, saying “there is no reason to increase the cost of visiting Machu Picchu, and no technical study that suggests any price increase”.

On the other hand, Cusco’s regional president Hugo Gonzalez has suggested a substantial increase to the entry price, which is already significantly greater than that of any of the other sites elected as ‘wonders’. “Foreigners are already spending at least $1000 on their flights and accommodation, so they can afford to pay more for the main reason they came here.”

Gonzalez suggests free entry to residents of the Cusco region, a reduction to $10 for other Peruvians, and an entry price of $80-100 for foreign tourists. Including other fees and standard transport to the site, this would bring the total cost of visiting Machu Picchu from Cusco to around $200.

Juan Diego Flores receives Peru’s highest honor

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Today Peru’s President Alan Garcia awarded the order of the Sun of Peru at the level of the Grand Cross, the nation’s highest honor, to Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flores.

The ceremony took place in the Gilded Room of the Palace of Government, where the president recognized Flores for his outstanding contributions to Peru’s worldwide image. The tenor is thought of as among the world’s greatest classical singers, vaunted by many as the successor to Luciano Pavarotti.

The order of the Grand Cross of the Sun of Peru is the nation’s highest honor.

Peru’s economic risk hits new low

Peru’s economic risk rating dropped on Friday from 1.00% to 0.97%, as calculated on the JPMorgan EMBI+ rating. This is the first time in the nation’s history that its rating has dropped below 1%.

The Emerging Markets Bond Index Plus is a rating of the difference in value between a Peruvian government issued bond and an equivalent bond issued by the US treasury, so is an accepted measure of the probability that a country fail to meet its obligations. A low rating means that the country is seen as “safe” by international investors.

This drop in risk is likely to encourage a large number of international financiers who only consider investing in countries with a rating of under 1%.

Peru’s international credit score is given as BB+ by two of the three main agencies, Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s – just one step away from the top level ratings in the A category.

Many analysts consider it likely that Peru will reach the “investment level” soon, which is expected to result in a flood of foreign investment. A risk rating of under 1% and a credit score of A are the key components necessary for this to happen.

Peru-Brazil joint expedition: Amazon is world’s longest river

 A joint Peruvian-Brazilian expedition has declared that the Amazon is the world’s longest river, stretching 6,672km (4,145.8 miles) from the Mismi mountain in Cuzco, Peru, to its mouth into the Atlantic in Brazil – compared to the 6,671km (4145.2 mile) length of the Nile.

While no hydrologists doubt that the Amazon is the world’s largest river in terms of flow, drainage basin, ecosystem and global impact, there is still debate over which river is the longest.

Egyptian officials have yet to recognize the Peruvian-Brazilian findings.

Apolo, Bolivia, calls on Peru to invade

Locals of an ecological reserve in Bolivia have held protests demanding that they be annexed by Peru. Waving Peruvian flags, as many as 4,000 people filled the local square and called on the mayor to extend an invitation to Peru to occupy the region.

The small town of Apolo, located just 6 hours’ walk from the Peruvian border, marks the entrance to the Madidi National Park, an Amazon wildlife refuge that includes around 1.8 million hectares (4.5 million acres) of pristine rainforest.

Officials opposing the protest claimed that the people were angered that the protected nature of the area prevents them from being legally allowed to log the forest or take advantage of oil reserves thought to exist in the region.

Speaking from La Paz 200km away, Bolivian President Evo Morales referred to the protesters as “drug traffickers and wood smugglers”.

Peru Reserve Bank chief: stock exchange volatility down to inexperienced investors

Julio Velarde, the President of Peru’s Central Reserve Bank (BCRP) yesterday blamed recent instabilities of the Lima Stock Exchange (BVL) on the influx of a large number of inexperienced investors, drawn in by the indices’ high yield this year, who then panicked when prices started to drop. He estimated their total investment at around US$500 million.

“People without much experience on the exchange were jumping in, buying up the stocks that had already experienced a lot of growth this year. They bought when the stocks were highly valued, and when the indices started to drop they started to panic and moved to sell out,” said the finance director.

He attributed part of the recent sudden drop of the exchanges indices to this mass selling by small investors, who had been attracted by the exchange’s growth; but described the recent drop as a readjustment that is already over, and not indicative of a slowing in overall growth. He pointed out that the BVL has grown by 168% in the past twelve months, with 42% increase so far in 2007 alone.

Lima Stock Exchange breaking records for growth

By midday today the Lima Stock Exchange (BVL) had already broken records for growth on a single day, with the General Index (IGRA or IGBVL) increasing by over 7.8% — more than enough to offset yesterday’s catastrophic fall. The Selective Index (ISEL or ISBVL) rose by 8.25% in the same time.

On a day that seems to be bringing further rises in international metals prices, the mineral sector is recovering very fast from the heavy losses experienced over the past few days, with investors hurrying to buy into what seems to be the start of a new upsurge.

UPDATE: By early afternoon, the General Index was showing growth of 8.35% and the Selective Index 8.50% today. Some analysts were talking of a 10% increase by close of trading.

See also:
President Garcia: economy as solid as a rock
Lima stock exchange back in the black, with furious trading and staggering increases
Record losses on Lima Stock Exchange