In Mexico, Mayan Apocalypse prophesy causes tourism boom

Keeping a disproven theory alive turns out to be big business in Mexico.

Anthropologists unanimously agree that what is commonly referred to as the Mayan Apocalypse, simply represents the end of a 394-year cycle known as the Baktun, The Week reports.

The Baktum cycle ends after the 13th baktum when it closes on December 21 this year— then the 394-year cycle starts all over again.

Jesus Gomez, the head of the Guatemalan confederation of Mayan priests, said that there is no concept of the Apocalypse in the Mayan culture. Even so, conspiracy theorists and New Age authors have profited greatly in keeping the belief alive.

Mayan descendant welcomes the upcoming apocalypse for a business opportunity and the Mexican tourism industry is anticipating a doomsday bonanza. They are expecting more than 52 million people to come and visit the states of Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Campeche—more than twice the usual number of visitors in of all of Mexico.

In Tapachula, a Mexican town on the boarder of Guatemala, people have set up several doomsday clocks and more than 500 Mayan-themed events that have been scheduled throughout the region. Travel agent Jonnie Channel said that hotels are filling up quickly and that people are getting very excited about it.

There are also other profits being made from the doomsday fears right here in the U.S. Retailers are seeing a mini-boom on books and DVD’s, and opportunistic Internet retailers are selling 2012 survival kits, insurance policies and reserved seating in “doomsday-proof” bunkers. One doomsday-opportunist, Roberto Vicino from California, is selling underground surviving shelters for $10,000 a head.

We invented this doomsday scenario, said the archeologist Kathryn Reese-Taylor, not the ancient Maya. A Pew Center poll last year found that 41 percent of Americans believe the rapture will occur before 2050 and NASA says they are contacted by about 10 people a day asking about the end of the world—with some asking if they should kill themselves.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com