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Ground broken on Machu Picchu airport

But is a new airport needed?

One of the world’s most famous tourist attractions is about to get an airport - and there are a lot of people who are unhappy about it. 


Reaching the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu has always been challenging, though it’s a trek that tourists have not shied away from, as evidenced by the approximately 1.5 million visitors who now make the journey each year. 


But this figure is around double the limit recommended by UNESCO, so its popularity has clearly placed a strain on the ruins. 



Now, according to The Guardian, work has begun on clearing ground for a multibillion-dollar international airport, which will bring travellers directly to the ruins, and likely in greater numbers. 


Predictably, locals and historians are against the airport that will be situated in the Incan town of Chinchero, which is located around 3,800 metres above sea level. 


“This is a built landscape; there are terraces and routes which were designed by the Incas,” said Cambridge University’s Peruvian art historian Natalia Majluf, who has petitioned against the airport. 


“Putting an airport here would destroy it.”


Currently, most visitors travel to the Sacred Valley through Peru’s Cusco airport. But this hub is limited to narrow-body aircraft. 


A new airport would allow nonstop flights to the region from cities in the US and Latin America, the Guardian reports, and critics say these flights would pass low near Ollantaytambo and its archeological park thereby doing the Incan ruins untold damage.


“It seems ironic and in a way contradictory that here, just 20 minutes from the Sacred Valley, the nucleus of the Inca culture, they want to build an airport – right on top of exactly what the tourists have come here to see,” Cusco-based anthropologist Pablo Del Valle said.


There are also concerns the new airport would deplete water reserves in the area as well as bring unwanted pollution.


Peru’s finance minister Carlos Oliva told media last month the “airport will be built as soon as possible because it’s very necessary for the city of Cusco”.


Do you think the airport should be built?


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Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 15 May 2019

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