Experts Say New Machu Picchu Airport “Would Destroy” the Site

The international airport would allow direct flights from the U.S.

New Machu Picchu Airport in Peru Sparks Outrage
The already overcrowded Incan site Machu Picchu is about to get an international airport.
Giacomo Buzzao/Unsplash

Too many tourists visit Machu Picchu. In 2017, there were more than 1.5 million, “almost double the limit recommended by Unesco,” writes The Guardian. Now, the Incan archeological site is facing a different threat: a new multi-billion-dollar airport.

Currently, most tourists travel through the single-runway Cusco airport limited to small aircraft flying from nearby cities. Now, construction has begun on an international airport in the closer town of Chinchero, “the gateway to the Sacred Valley,” which would allow direct flights from across the U.S. and Latin America.

The government plans to complete it by 2023, but the beginning of construction sparked immediate pushback from experts across the board.

The Guardian spoke with some of the most vocal critics, including Natalia Majluf, a Peruvian art historian at Cambridge University, who said, “Putting an airport here would destroy it.”

Pablo Del Valle, an anthropologist, phrased the problem in a different way: “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.”

Majluf also organized a petition against the airport on At the time of writing, it has just under 6,300 signatures out of a goal of 7,500.

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