The world-famous Inca site Machu Picchu in Peru is going to get an airport. Peru's government started preparing the ground for the airport earlier this week. Around one million tourists visit Machu Picchu every year. Government officials hope the new Chinchero International Airport will make it easier for tourists to reach the site. Getting to Machu Picchu currently takes time and requires a bus and train. The nearest airport is 120 kilometers away in the city of Cuzco. The new airport will allow direct international flights into the heart of the Machu Picchu area. The government says this will be a boost for the country's tourism industry. More than 7 million passengers a year may use the airport.
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Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century by the Inca people. They built it 2,430 meters up on a misty peak in the Andes Mountains. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. Many people are unhappy about the building of the new airport. Conservationists say it will cause a lot of damage to Machu Picchu and its surrounding rural communities. Peruvian archaeologist Abel Traslaviña said: "The airport...endangers the conservation of one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in the world. 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 urbanization."