Last month, I wrote about a proposed new airport near Machu Picchu in Peru. Many readers expressed outrage over its construction. As construction progresses, international protests have increased.
Even though the new airport has been planned for decades, it was only this year in which the Peruvian government broke ground on the project. Chinchero International Airport will be situated in Sacred Valley, offering a far easier gateway into Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail than flying into Cusco. The airport is excepted to become Peru’s second largest (behind Lima).
Archeologists, historians, and environmentalists from all over the world have signed a petition against the airport, which warns:
An airport in the surroundings of the Sacred Valley will affect the integrity of a complex Inca landscape and will cause irreparable damage due to noise, traffic and uncontrolled urbanisation.
Now, over 50,000 people have signed the petition and around-the-clock protests are occurring near the construction site. But the Peruvian government is unmoved. In a recent press conference, Peru’s President Martín Vizcarra forcefully defended the project and vowed that it would be built, protests or not. He argued that years of research on environmental impact were performed and defiantly proclaimed, “This is not an improvisation! The Chinchero Airport moves ahead!”
Protests will continue, but so will construction. With a government so determined to build the airport, I am not sure there is any realistic hope of stopping construction. There will be plusses and minuses to a new airport, which I discussed in my previous post. The question is whether Machu Picchu itself can physically handle the additional tourists? Peru already allows in double the number of daily visitors than UNESCO recommends. Will that number climb even higher?