With the Y2K Apocalypse and other assorted, always incorrect Raptures and Revelations behind them, you might expect the prophets (read: profits) of Armageddon to slink off the world stage in shame. You would be wrong.
Welcome to 2012, the Year of the Mayan Apocalypse! Of course, it isn’t, and there’s not one shred of evidence that the ancient Mayans or any other honest expert ever believed for one tonalli that the world would end in 2012.
“The Maya calendar … has nothing to do with 2012 and all this marketing publicity…. This isn’t the end of the world,” an exasperated Apolinario Chile, Guardian of the Mayan Prophecies, told Global Post. “I invite you and this media site to come and talk to me 20 days after 2012, and we will drink a lemonade together.”
“To render December 21, 2012, as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting,” sighed Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, “is a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”
“People could make big bucks by capitalizing on the folks who are concerned enough about perceived threats, real or imagined, to make a change in their life,” continued David Moye of the Huffington Post. “’It’s going to be a huge year in the preparedness market,’” said Moye’s interviewee, apocalypse entrepreneur Robert Richardson. “‘It will be bigger than Y2K.’”
Indeed. Now that the lucrative theatrics of the End of the World have been honed to tooth-gnashing, clothes-rending perfection during previous apocalypses, why abandon the racket now? It’s all just a bit of harmless fun, right? Sure, until one of these delusional believers remembers that the Mayans averted cosmological disasters with bloody human sacrifices, and attempts to save the world accordingly. But that won’t be the fault of some self-professed seer who irresponsibly promoted this sort of New Age nuttery, will it? No. It never is.
The Mexican government, to its enormous credit, has clearly and consistently discredited the charlatans of the apocalypse ever since this blather began a few years ago, despite the obvious potential to profit off their credulous followers: “The world will not end. It is an era,” explained Yeanet Zaldo, SECTUR spokesperson for Cancun and Quintana Roo. “For us, it is a message of hope.”
Mexico is certainly hoping to capitalize on the world’s renewed interest in Mayan cosmology, no matter how misguided. For example, SECTUR, the Ministry of Tourism, declared 2012 Year of the Mayan World, and has predicted that the year will bring an astounding 52 million visitors to just the Mayan states: Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Campeche. All of Mexico usually hosts around 22 million foreigners annually.
More than 500 cultural events have been planned for Mexico’s Mayan municipalities throughout the year, with more to be announced. The cheerfully scruffy border town of Tapachula has erected a grassroots tourism initiatives catering to the prophesied glut of 2012 travelers. Can’t make it this year? No problem. They’ll still be open for business in 2013, promise.