Single Tourist Allowed To Visit World Heritage Site After 7-Month Wait

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Jesse Katayama didn’t plan on spending seven months in Peru due to a pandemic that thwarted his plans to cross Machu Picchu off his bucket list.

But Peru made a special exception for the Osaka, Japan, native when officials let him enter the UNESCO World Heritage Site as the only tourist Saturday, finally exchanging his March 16 entry ticket for the experience, CNN reported.

Katayama arrived March 14 in Aguas Calientes, but only days later, the Peruvian government opted to close the site amid the coronavirus pandemic. The tourist was stranded in the town on the slopes of the mountains near the site, and he rented a small room to live in, according to CNN.

“He had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter,” Minister of Culture Alejandro Neyra said in a virtual press conference Monday, according to Reuters. “The Japanese citizen has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.”

“I thought I never make it (to Machu Picchu) but everyone asked the government and the town and they game me super special permission,” Katayama said in in an Instagram post, according to CNN. “Peruvians are soooo kind. Thank you soooo much!”

A government inspector takes a selfie on June 15, 2020 in the empty Machu Picchu, the 15th century Inca citadel located at 2,430 metres in the Andes mountain range, 80 km from Cusco in southern Peru, which has been closed to tourism since March 16, 2020 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. – Peru, considered as one of America’s and the world’s leading tourism destinations, closed down its borders on March 16, 2020 seeking to curve the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. (Photo by PERCY HURTADO/AFP via Getty Images)

Katayama’s departure from Aguas Clientes will be bittersweet, he told CNN.

“I will definitely cry,” he reportedly said. “These seven months have been very special to me. I have discovered a new part of me.”

Neyra said that Machu Picchu will reopen for national and foreign tourists in November and will being allowing 30% of its normal capacity of 675 visitors per day, according to Reuters.