“Mexican government officials are predicting a surge of visitors to the five southern states that comprise the country’s Maya region. In Belize, which bills itself as “heartland of the Maya,” airlines have committed tens of thousands of extra seats to accommodate projected interest from foreign visitors. In Guatemala, the country with the most living Maya, officials predict a 10 percent across-the-board increase in tourism.” – The Huffington Post
The Maya Region is definitely in for some gain in the tourism industry in 2012 and the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) recognizes that this year will be a momentous occasion for all of Belize, in particular Belize’s large Maya population. Does Belize await an economic boom as the Maya world braces for 2012? Given the amount of interest in the Maya this year, we surely think it will be a good year for Belize and the rest of the Maya region.
The global excitement of the 2012 doomsday or apocalypse stems from the year 2012’s significance as the end of the Maya Long Count calendar, a 5,125-year period of time which ends exactly on Gregorian calendar date December 21, 2012, the winter solstice. But is it really a doomsday of sorts or should it be the celebration of the Maya and the rebirth of a new era?
Aside from all the end of the world hoopla, it is clear that Guatemala, southern Mexico and Belize are in for some more visitors due to the heavy influence of the Maya people in their cultures. The Mundo Maya countries, which partly include Honduras and El Salvador, are investing millions of dollars in advertising to promote their Maya ancestry that is still very prominent; today, some ten million Maya descendants still live in the region and speak 30 indigenous Mayan languages. This includes hundreds of cultural events throughout the year.
The BTB has gotten into the bandwagon and started to promote Maya 2012 event with the launch of Belize’s Maya Calendar 2012 that took place on Wednesday, January 11, 2012. The Maya Calendar includes a series of events to commemorate this significant occasion in history. The launch included a lecture by expert professor Dr. Mark Van Stone one on the topic “What the Ancient Maya actually said about 2012”.
The theme for the year round activity in Belize will be, “Belize, the Maya Heartland, where will you be when the world begins anew?”
“We are proud to be part of a region-wide movement to promote international awareness of the significance of 2012 to the early Maya and further the cause of international understanding of ‘the world transitioning into a new era’,” commented the marketing department of the BTB.
But the BTB is not the only entity planning on Maya 2012 events in Belize. The Lodge at Chaa Creek, one of Belize’s leading supporters of Maya research and promotion, will be hosting a year of activities that includes tours, solstice and equinox ceremonies, workshops, and seminars to introduce the world to the marvels of the ancient Maya civilization.
Besides capitalizing on the exposure to promote tourism in the country, Belize is also very conscious about the Maya people and how they can be positively impacted by all the ‘apocalypse tourism’. Events and celebrations are centered close and around Maya communities, Maya Temples and they are invited to showcase their culture, food and crafts.
Fun Side Note: Is it Maya or Mayan; which one to use?
* The correct word to use is Maya.
* Mayan is used unless referring to a language: as in “There are many Mayan languages.”
* The people are referred to as Maya, not Mayans. e.g. “Maya Culture”, “Maya Urban Center” or “Maya Ruin”