South America

A New Airport Threatens Machu Picchu

Saul Greenland  |  17 May 2019

The new international airport is being built at Chinchero, a 4-hour journey to Machu Picchu and an hour away from Cusco. It will direct flights from major cities in Latin America and the US injecting crowds of people into the one Peruvian destination that is struggling under the strain of overtourism. Cusco already has an international airport but it only has one runway. The plan is to open the area for more international arrivals as larger planes will be able to land and improve accessibility for stopover flights

 

One of the views from Machu Picchu after completing the Inca Trail. By Alexey Stiop shutterstock 23671153 800

 

 

Viva Expeditions believes this airport is completely the wrong decision. The open discussions on overtourism and the realisation that tourism does not have room for infinite growth clashes with this new airport. Plans to limit the numbers at Machu Picchu have been refined over the past 5 years. Machu Picchu is already over its carrying capacity of 5000 tourists a day, double the 2,500 visitors recommended by UNESCO. So why attract more?

Rachel Williams, Viva's Founder says: "Plane landings into the guts of the Sacred Valley is simply a bad idea! Air traffic in the would create a lot of disturbance not only physically but the noise will shatter the peace degrading the whole sacred valley experience. More day trippers or 'tick box tourists' could start visiting Machu Picchu creating a theme park out of a sacred place. Peru is not Machu Picchu, its Lake Titikaka, Amazon and the Colca Canyon. It has so much to offer!"

 

By Judyta Jastrzebska shutterstock 365021858 800

 

 

The airport could also have an impact on long term economic gains from tourism. Tourists currently stay at Cusco, take the train, eat at local restaurants and stay for a while at locally owned accommodations. This airport could alter tourism behaviours dramatically as tourists stay for shorter periods of time. Of course, the local population may benefit from new jobs constructing the airport.

Prom Peru (Commission for the Promotion of Peru) has been doing a fantastic job at trying to spread the benefits of tourism across Peru. They are addressing the real problem, that Peru has placed all its energy on one international attraction.

Are you concerned this 'sacred place will become a sad theme park', sign the petition created by UK travel company Responsible Travel.

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