Construction has begun on a new controversial airport near the Incan citadel, but naysayers are worried about the future of the delicate archaeological site.
Tucked away in the Peruvian Andes, the ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu has been historically difficult to reach. Formerly a refuge for the Incan elite in the 15th century and later a popular pilgrimage destination, Machu Picchu is now overrun with tourists, who typically fly into the single-runway airport in the nearby city of Cusco and then take a train or a multi-day hike to reach the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To make Machu Picchu more accessible to tourism, the local government has started construction on a new international airport in Chinchero, an Incan town considered the gateway to the Sacred Valley.
Expected to be completed by 2023, the $5 billion Chinchero Cuzco International Airport has sparked outrage both locally and abroad over concerns that increased tourism to an already overcrowded site would degrade the area’s beauty and character—and lead to greater environmental destruction to the vulnerable archeological campus.
Nearly 50,000 people have signed a
Yet, the government does not seem to be interested in changing its position. “This airport will be built as soon as possible because it’s very necessary for the city of Cusco,” Peru’s finance minister, Carlos Oliva, told media last month. “There’s a series of technical studies which support this airport’s construction.”