MEXICO’S tourist industry brings £45 billion a year into the country. This is big business but it is under threat by the drugs wars waging across the country.
The gun battles between the cartels and police put off holidaymakers looking for sun, sand and a mariachi band.
Instead of going Loco Down In Acapulco (The Four Tops, 1988), they have been going loco all over (Antonio Banderas, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, 2003).
And while the Banderas film might have been quite exciting it was, after all, fiction, whereas the present violence is real.
So the Mexicans, never short of a good idea (colour television, contraceptive pill, rocket belt, the computer mousepad and Speedy Gonzales were all Mexican inventions), have come up with a brand new marketing pitch that is more than a thousand years old.
Come visit us while you can, they say. Visit our ancient Mayan sites. And celebrate the end of the world on December 21, next year.
What’s that? Yes, you heard correctly. Apocalypse. Then. Next year. At least you won’t have to bother with Christmas shopping. Or pretend to be pleased with another badly knitted jumper with three arms from Auntie Ethel.
This new marketing idea is, of course, only a short term tourist solution.
If the end of the world doesn’t happen, the Government can hardly pretend they got it wrong by a year. Manana just wouldn’t cut it.
Besides, those ancient Mayans were fairly specific. December 21, 2012, is the final day in their Long Cycle of the Great Count.
And if they are right and the world does end, the only winners I can see are cunning tourists who book into the best hotel in Mexico (or anywhere else for that matter) for a month ending on December 22.
They will be able to sit on their balcony on the last night and raise a glass to the end of life as we know it, without having paid for a thing.
“We’ll have the best champagne. As much as you’ve got. Just stick it on the bill. Seems a shame to waste it.”
This date is not arbitrary. It marks the end of a 5,125-year cycle. This is the fourth cycle of equal length created by the Mayan gods but only the first into which they introduced humans. So they must be feeling pretty fed up with the results.
No wonder they are planning an apocalypse.
But even this is open to interpretation, as almost everything is, these days.
There are those who predict the cataclysmic end of the world, while others say it means the start of a new era, a positive physical or spiritual transformation of the human race.
Then there are those who say Earth will disappear into a black hole or collide with an asteroid or rogue planet, and still more fanciful folk claim that three giant rocket ships, that are already being
tracked through space, will arrive next year just in time for Christmas for an alien invasion.
So that three armed home knitted jumper from Auntie Ethel might come in useful after all. And if some of the invaders could be persuaded to visit Mexico, their tourism problem would be solved.