Hollywood depicts the Maya calendar's end as a cataclysmic event. But top Mexican tourism officials are betting an invitation to see Maya ruins will attract hordes of older, wealthier U.S. visitors.
By Hugo Martín
Whereas the Hollywood blockbuster "2012" depicts the end of the Maya calendar as the spark of a global calamity, the Mexican campaign will include a countdown to the calendar's conclusion and urge tourists to visit archaeological sites in the states of Campeche, Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Tabasco.
"Our interpretation of the Mayan calendar is reverse to what many people speculate," Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, the chief operating officer for the Mexico Tourism Board, said on a swing through Los Angeles with other top Mexican officials this summer. "Our focus will be on growth and prosperity instead of the end of the world."
The campaign is the latest effort by Mexico to overcome a steady stream of negative publicity over drug-related violence that has killed tens of thousands in that country and made many American tourists hesitant to venture south of the border.
Below: "The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico, was built so that the shadows of a corner of the pyramid would fall on a stairway and create the effect of an illuminated serpent." (Israel Leal/Associated Press)