A new airport that will permit direct flights from cities in the USA and South America is set to be built in Machu Picchu, a World Heritage Site, but critics are saying that this might be the downfall of the ancient site.
Responsible Travel CEO and co-founder Justin Francis said that the irresponsible decision could be a defining moment in tourism as this might be the thing that went wrong in the tourism industry when they look in back once they’re in the future.
UNESCO recommends a specific number that limits tourists, but tourists in Machu Picchu have already been double that limit. As of 2017, 1.5 million travelers had visited the site.
Francis said that UNESCO would have to strip Machu Picchu of its World Heritage Site title. He added that Machu Picchu would not be the only one to suffer in the Peruvian government’s decision. The area, Chinchero, where the newest airport will be built is already being torn by the construction, which, when done, will result in a completely ruined landscape. Other critics also said that planes flying low would destroy the beauty of the area.
However, Francis made it clear that he doesn’t fault the locals for seeing the new plan of development in the area in a more positive light than they do. They would see it as a way out of poverty with some being promised with 2,500 jobs and others selling their lands to the developers. One of the three indigenous communities, the Yanacona, have already sold their land for $35 million.
Francis continued on to explain that Peru’s tourism sort of depends on its only grand attraction, the Machu Picchu. However, more tourists arriving at the site could only do more harm than good. He suggested that Peru focus on developing and marketing its heritage site into a more extensive offer instead in order to spread the tourists and their money more widely as well.
Justin Francis is starting a petition in the hopes of making their concern about the plans to build a new airport at Machu Picchu heard.