Visiting Machu Picchu has changed in 2019, as a new ticketing system is implemented to decrease traffic to the ancient site. The world famous Inca citadel is one of the most popular tourist sites in South America, and is one of those places that will be found on almost every traveler's bucket list. Tourists can stay in a nearby town, and visit the site to wander the ruins and take in the stunning views... but too many tourists is an increasing issue.
With more than four million visitors in 2018, it's easy to see how this incredible heritage site was becoming overcrowded, and more tourists often means more problems. From issues with disrespectful tourists leaving trash or intentionally eroding the stone to take a little home with them, to the straightforward erosion of the site itself from increased foot traffic, it's not surprising that the government has decided to do something to try and decrease visitor numbers - by implementing a new ticketing system.
The new ticket system was implemented on January 1st, and requires visitors to buy timed tickets in advance. The tickets have hourly entry times from 6am to 2pm, and each ticket allows the visitor to stay on the site for one hour. This is significantly shorter than previous ticket times. The tickets cost around $45 (at current exchange rates), so the cost itself is not prohibitive, but limited quantities will mean that spontaneous trips up the mountain are a thing of the past.
While some may balk at the idea of it becoming more difficult to see this incredible site, there are serious advantages to the new system, beyond preservation of the site. The other major benefit is that fewer tourists at any given time mean that it will be easier to actually see and enjoy the site without the crowds... and that also means better photos to be taken, which many will love. It may also encourage visitors to plan other trips in the local area, giving people more of an incentive to see more than just the citadel on their visit to the area.
Beyond that, however, preservation is vitally important when it comes to a site like this. The new tickets may mean that is is difficult to visit on a whim, or even to get tickets when visiting during peak seasons, and they'll cut out those full days wandering the ruins. However, this is a small price to pay to keep Machu Picchu beautiful for people to visit for years to come.