Peru's famous Machu Picchu site is getting an international airport. Work started this week on preparing the ground for the airport. A million tourists visit Machu Picchu every year. The government hopes the new airport will make it easier for tourists to get to Machu Picchu. It currently takes time by bus and train. The nearest airport is 120 kilometers away. Direct international flights will fly into the heart of the Machu Picchu area. The government says this will boost the country's tourism industry. Over 7 million passengers a year may use the airport.
The Inca people built Machu Picchu in the 15th century. It is 2,430 meters up on a peak in the Andes Mountains. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. Conservationists are unhappy about the new airport. They say it will damage Machu Picchu and nearby rural communities. An archaeologist said: "The airport...endangers the conservation of one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in the world." He said an airport near Machu Picchu, "will cause irreparable damage due to noise, traffic and uncontrolled urbanization".