The Impact of Incan Sites to the Economic Stability of Cusco (PHOTO CREDIT: VALENTINA LETORT)

Article by: Valentina Letort Merlo, Priscila Estefania Navarrete Marcillo, Jose Martin Robalino Alzamora, and Rafael C. Katz P


This project will show the effects of tourism to Inca sites in the province of Cusco. More specifically, it will show how the large amounts of tourists that come to Cusco affect the economic stability of this province positively. Further, it will also show why and how tourism is a stable source of income. This project was conducted by four 10th grade students from Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito who have been investigating the Inca culture throughout the elective year 2016 - 2017. The information for this project was gathered by the students in Cusco, a province of Perú, during an academic field trip and in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, during school hours. The research was done using two different methods in order to get accurate and coherent data. First, field observations and interactions were made to understand the reality and the economy of Cuzco better. Additionally, internet research through governmental pages were used to gather numerical data, including the economic growth rates and the amounts of tourists of the province of Cusco. Furthermore, this project shows in depth one specific aspect, economic stability, in which the Inca civilizations and their reliques are still affecting some parts of the present-day world.

Old man working in Cusco (photo credit: Mauricio Letort)

Research Question: How has tourism to Inca sites affected the economic stability of the Peruvian province of Cusco?

Cusco is presently one of the biggest and most important provinces of Peru, but it used to be the Inca capital. The province depends on mining and the tourists who visit Inca sites every year. This research question allows us to investigate in depth the impact that tourism has on the province’s economic stability. This question allows us to examine if tourism is a stable source of income, evaluate its importance, and determine how it affects the economic development of Cusco by looking at economic data. To sum up, this investigation will let us see, through the economic stability of Cusco, how the Inca Empire is still affecting this province and the daily lives of millions of people.

Girl working in Cusco (photo credit: Mauricio Letort)

Hypothesis: Tourism to Inca sites has had a positive effect on the economic stability of Cusco because it has provided a stable and constant source of income.

Our hypothesis answers our research question specifically and completely because it addresses each aspect of our research question: tourism and the economic stability of Cusco. This prediction can be either confirmed or refuted by researching if tourism is a stable and constant source of income and the effect the Inca sites in Cusco have on the province’s economic stability. Analyzing the stability of tourism and proving whether it is a stable and constant source of income will help us confirm or reject our hypothesis because this research furthers our investigation by allowing us to see the effect of tourism in the economic stability of any region. If tourism is stable then it should help stabilize the economy, on the other hand if it is unstable the opposite should happen.

Kids in Ollantaytambo showing their typical clothing (photo credit: Priscila Navarrete)

Research Methods: Thoroughly analyzing economic data from government institutions, as well as field observations and accounts of people who live in the area enabled us to properly evaluate our hypothesis.

We researched and analyzed economic data from government institutions such as the PIE (Peruvian Institute of Economics) and PIEI (Peruvian Institute of Economics and Informatics), which provided us with professional and trustworthy data. This data was mostly found in graphics, indicating the amount of tourists visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu yearly, the total economic output of the province, and the economic growth rate of this province. This data helped us create our own evidence-based conclusions.

Field observations, of construction projects and international investments in Cusco also proved to be valuable because they allowed us to see firsthand the bases of the economy of Cusco and how they were implemented. Another powerful resource we obtained in Cusco was the perspective of the people living in the area which allowed us to not only better understand how the economic system in Cusco worked, but to see it from their individual viewpoints.

Kids working in Ollantaytambo (photo credit: Priscila Navarrete)

Conclusions: Tourism to Inca sites has a positive effect on the economic stability of Cusco because it attract tourists, both locals and foreigners, fostering stable economic growth in this province.

We are able to confirm our hypothesis that tourism to Inca sites has had a positive effect on the economic stability of Cusco by providing a stable and constant source of income. Numerical data from government sources confirm our prediction about the positive impact of tourism on the economic stability of Cusco. Our research also enables us to identify the qualities of tourism which make it a stable and constant source of income.

When compared to the other industries of Cusco, which include mining and oil extraction, tourism prices are less influenced by external forces. Because prices in the tourism industry fluctuate less than commodity markets for minerals and oil, tourism-related income is less prone to instability. The stability of the prices is directly related to the influence of external forces, which are the main cause for price changes. Tourism is also a renewable source of income because, if businesses take good care of clients and the maintain destinations, it will never end suddenly or completely. In other words, the supply of tourists who visit Cusco can be regenerated, unlike supplies of minerals and oil that will be eventually used in their totality. In conclusion, tourism is a stable source of income which creates a stable economy, such as the one in the province of Cuzco.

Tourism in Machu Picchu (photo credit: Valentina Letort)

Tourism influences positively the economic stability of Cusco by spreading money among the civilians of the province. Tourism-related income is distributed among diverse economic actors; for example, a tourist will eat at a restaurant, then buy a souvenir, sleep at a hotel, and visit an Inca site with the help of a tour guide and driver. This distribution of income causes the population of Cusco to increase as people move to the province in search of employment. This population growth is shown in the government census that shows an increase of one hundred forty-two thousand six-hundred forty (142,640) people from 1993 to 2007 (INEI, n.d, chart 3). The increase in the population brings about a major effect; the demand for common goods and services such as housing and food increases generating, more jobs. This generation of jobs gives people the ability to work, reduces poverty, and spreads the capital among other economic sectors generating economic stability. In conclusion, tourism has caused population growth that has improved the economy of other industries, helping the economic stability of Cusco.

Tour guide in Ollantaytambo ruins (photo credit: Valentina Letort)

Another fact worth mentioning is that tourism is a very important magnet for international investment. On our trip to Cusco we were amazed by the number of international hotels and organizations, such as Starbucks and Camps International, the traveling company with whom we traveled. We also saw and heard of a number of new construction projects, including the new airport near Ollantaytambo which is being developed in hopes of making the tourism experience increase in quality. All of these projects caused by tourism boost the construction sector, a very important job creator. This sector helps distribute money among civilians and gives work to people, such as architects and all the workers who manufacture construction materials, creating economic stability. According to INEI, the economic term for this domino effects is “indirect impact of an economic sector” (n.d, para.8). To sum up, tourism indirectly impacts the economic stability of Cusco by boosting the economy of the construction sector and creating economic stability.

In conclusion, tourism positively affects the economic stability of Cusco by providing a stable source of income that distributes revenue among the population by creating work. The impact of tourism on the economic stability of Cusco can be seen in the stable growth of tourism. If we look at the numbers of visitors to Machu Picchu (which directly influences the visitors to Cusco ), according to the Ministry of Culture, we can see a steady increase from year to year, in 2010 there were four-hundred nineteen thousand three-hundred forty-two (419,342) visitors, in 2011, six-hundred eight thousand eight-hundred ninety-seven (608,897), and in the year in 2012 there were six-hundred ninety-nine thousand six-hundred eighty (699,680) (2016, graph 2). The increasing amount of tourists are directly related to the rise of the income which, according to the data of INEI has been increasing at a steady rate of around fifteen million (15,000,000) soles since the year 2007 (n.d,table 11). All of the information above proves that thanks to the tourism brought by the Inca, the economicstability of Cusco has increased the quality of life for numerous people which demonstrates how the Incas still affect our present. Therefore, this information shows us the importance of history and why it is important to study our ancestors.

Girls posing for a picture in Ollantaytambo (photo credit: Valentina Letort)

Works Cited

El crecimiento económico de la región Cusco. (2016). Retrieved February 24, 2017, from

ESTADÍSTICAS. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2017, from

Letort, V. (2017). Girl spinning in Aguas Calientes [Sony Photograph]. Self-published.

Letort, M. (2014). Old man working in Cusco [ Cannon Photograph]. Self-Published.

Letort, M. (2014). Girl working in Cusco [ Cannon Photograph]. Self-Published.

Navarrete, P. (2017). Kids in Ollantaytambo showing their typical clothing [ Cell Phone Photograph]. Self-Published.

Navarrete, P. (2017). Kids working in Ollantaytambo [ Cell Phone Photograph]. Self-Published.

Letort, V. (2017). Tourism in Machu Picchu [ Sony Photograph]. Self-Published.

Letort, V. (2017). Tour guide in Ollantaytambo [ Sony Photograph]. Self-Published.

Letort, V. (2017). Girls posing for a picture in Ollantaytambo[ Sony Photograph]. Self-Published.

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