Earlier this month, Peruvian president Ollanta Humala announced plans for Peru to open a new airport with closer access to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. This $US 460 million dollar project, reported on by BBC News, aims to drastically improve international access to Peru’s most visited tourist attraction as well as create more jobs for the surrounding community. The closest airport in Cusco is generally too small to accommodate large planes or a high volume of daily flights, and the planned airport in Chinchero, a town about 20 minutes outside of Cusco, aims to improve on these limitations. The project’s first step will be to begin expropriating large lots of land around Chinchero.
Unesco, the United Nation’s cultural agency, has urged Peruvian leaders to curtail the increase in travel to these sites; around 3,000 travelers visit Machu Picchu daily. Unesco continues by stating that further modern infrastructure in the region risks over-exploiting these resources, leading to their eventual dilapidation.
The impact of the airport on the cultural and historic resources of Peru will be more clearly seen in the next few decades. One thing’s for sure though: If you are planning to ever see Machu Picchu, hike the Inca Trail, or experience the Sacred Valley without drastically increased tourist traffic, you should begin planning now.
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