Peru has taken the first step in a project to build a new airport in Cusco, in the most visited region of the country.
According to the national daily, La Républica, the Peruvian congress on Friday approved the expropriation of public lands required for the construction of the new airport, following President Ollanta Humala's declaration on July 28: "I will ask Congress to pass a law to build an international airport in Cusco, and I ask for progress to be made on land purchases to that end."
The new construction is expected to be ready in 2017 and cost around $420 million. It will be located in the Valle del Urubamba, replacing the city's current airport.
Cusco's current airport only operates in the mornings due to climate conditions in the afternoons that make landing and takeoff more difficult, making it insufficient for the growing influx of tourists. Flights to Cusco tend to be overbooked, meaning that many tourists tend to travel there by bus from Lima, the country's capital.
Cusco is home to some of the most famous landmarks in Peru, such as the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the citadel of Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Once the capital of the Incan empire, Cusco contains some of the most impressive Inca monuments.
Cusco is most famous for the Inca Trail, a four-day expedition between the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu which allows hikers to discover emerald peaks and terraced ruins of the ancient city. According to Victor Hugo Pérez, director of Dircetur, Cusco's tourist office, the number of visitors to Cusco hit two million in 2011, and authorities are expecting to receive 500,000 more this year.