According to press reports, Peru’s President, Ollanta Humala, has announced that his government has committed some $460 million towards the creation of a new airport near Cusco to boost tourism in Machu Picchu. Humala said that the current airport in Cusco is inadequate and expressed hope that a new facility would bring more tourism dollars to the country.
In recent years, Peru has moved to limit the number of tourists who can visit the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu to 2,500 per day, so the new initiative to attract more visitors is sure to draw criticism from those worried about preserving the site.
I asked Mark Adams, the author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu, what he made of the plans for a new airport in the town of Chinchero, and he said that the move appeared to be a change of direction for the Peruvian government.
“A new airport – especially one built near Chinchero, which is a bit closer to Machu Picchu than Cusco is – is a move in the opposite direction, and will only encourage more people to come,” he wrote. “One of the reasons that Machu Picchu is as well preserved as it is, is that it’s hard to get there – you need to fly through Lima and take a long train ride. The inconvenience acts as a filter. If this new airport leads to the construction of a new road to Machu Picchu (you can’t drive there directly right now), the numbers of people who visit could explode. And that would be a disaster.”
[Photo by Szeke on Flickr]