This article shows how tourism has shaped Latin American environments by constructing touristic landscapes, causing environmental impacts, and affecting environmental problem solving. The author utilizes written records and interviews to document the environmental history of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The transformation of the Inca Trail from overgrown path to global hiking destination began in the early twentieth century. Foreign and Peruvian scientific expeditions socially constructed the trail as natural and cultural heritage. State and corporate actors sought to advance regional and national development via tourism. In Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, this took the form of archaeological restoration and tourism infrastructure to showcase Cusco’s heritage and modernity. Backpacking guidebooks and trekking operators helped internationalize the trail in the 1970s. By the late 1990s, it had become an experiential pilgrimage for thousands of hikers. For state officials and tour agencies, it had become an environmental problem. In 2000, new regulations took measures to improve the trail’s environment and produce an aesthetic touristic landscape. The new rules also regimented commerce, labor, and trail users to promote tourism development. The author suggests new ways of conceiving heritage tourism and park policy as part of development as well as conservation.
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Keely Maxwell; Tourism, Environment, and Development on the Inca Trail. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 February 2012; 92 (1): 143–171. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-1470995
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