To some doomsday interpreters, completion of the Maya calendar cycle today is a sign of an impending apocalypse. For Mexico’s tourism industry, it’s hardly the end of the world.
Curiosity about the ancient Maya culture sparked by predictions for the end of days helped draw a record of at least 23 million visitors to Mexico this year, said Deputy Tourism Minister Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez. Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste SAB, the airport operator, said Maya-fueled travel boosted passenger traffic to Cancun to an all-time high in 2012, and hotelier Grupo Posadas SAB (POSADASA) says it helped spur a 40 percent jump in net income at beach destinations.
The Maya flourished in Mexico and Central America in cities with tens of thousands of people until about 1,000 AD. Their calendar’s 394-year count, known as a baktun, ends its 13th cycle today, sparking doomsday theories. Much like interpreters of the calendar who say today marks the beginning of a new era rather than an apocalypse, Mexican companies say they’re seeing a revival in tourism nationwide.
“Mexico is on a roll,” Ruben Camiro, chief financial officer of Mexico City-based Posadas, said in a telephone interview from London. Hotel bookings “really started to pick up by the second quarter and now we see a whole machine coming our way.”
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