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Apocalypse’s good for Mexico’s Mayan region

FILE - In this March 10 2008 file phopeople watch as Mayan indian priests participate ceremony while one holds up

FILE - In this March 10, 2008 file photo, people watch as Mayan indian priests participate in a ceremony while one holds up a crystal skull at the Mayan ruins of Palenque, Mexico. There is a legend that the ancient Maya possessed 13 crystal skulls which, when united, hold the power of saving the Earth. Only a year is left before Dec. 21, 2012, when some believe the Maya predicted the end of the world. While some doomsday theorists may suggest putting together survival kits, people in southeastern Mexico, the heart of Maya territory, plan to throw a yearlong celebration. And to make a profit while they party. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

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Updated: December 18, 2012 12:29AM



MEXICO CITY — Seize the day.

Only a year is left before Dec. 21, 2012, when some believe the Maya predicted the end of the world.

While some doomsday theorists may suggest putting together survival kits, people in southeastern Mexico, the heart of Maya territory, plan to throw a yearlong celebration. And to make a profit while they party.

Mexico’s tourism agency expects to draw 52 million visitors over the coming year just to the five states richest in Maya heritage. Mexico as a whole is expected to lure just 22 million foreigners this year.

It is selling the date, the Winter Solstice, as a time of renewal. Most Mexican archaeological authorities say that the 2012 reference on a 1,300-year-old stone tablet only marks the end of a cycle in the Mayan calendar, not an apocalypse.

“The world will not end. It is an era,” said Yeanet Zaldo, a tourism spokeswoman for the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, home to Cancun. “For us, it is a message of hope.”

Jonnie Channell says that 2012 “is going to be one of those things where people are definitely going to have to plan,” not because of impending apocalypse, but because hotel rooms in the Maya region are probably going to be full.

Channell, who owns Maya Sites Travel Services, said she already has 24 reservations for three tour packages she is offering to major Mayan ruin sites in the week leading up to the solstice.

“We put together these tours, and we’ve got lots of signups, and people are excited about it,” she said. “If anybody think it’s going to be the end of the world, then they better stay home.” AP



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