The governor of the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatan says a program to promote Mayan culture will give a boost to tourism in Mexico and other nearby countries where ruins of that ancient civilization are located.

Nationally, the Mundo Maya 2012 initiative is aimed at promoting tourism in Yucatan and the nearby states of Tabasco, Campeche, Chiapas and Quintana Roo, where cultural offerings for domestic and foreign tourists will be expanded.

"With these promotional efforts, we're looking at receiving two million more tourists. And with the proceeds that will generate, we'll create new sources of direct and indirect employment," Gov. Ivonne Ortega said in an interview with Efe.

The program will kick off on July 21 - in the week that marks the start of the Mayan year - and will run through Dec. 21, 2012, a date prophesized by some as the end of the world.

Referring to the controversy surrounding that day, the governor said that "what the Mayans really wanted to tell us with their calendar is that that date will mark the end of a new era and, because it's cyclical, also the beginning of another in which human beings should reconcile themselves with one another and with nature."

This is a unique moment that the countries that are bearers of this valuable cultural legacy should capitalize on to display it to the world, she said.

This initiative will help strengthen the economy of Yucatan state, 64 percent of whose gross domestic product comes from the services sector, especially tourism.

Yucatan also is home to 2,000 archaeological sites, 16 of which are accessible to the public, including the Mayan city of Chichen Itza.

The initiative will include the recovery of many of these archaeological reserves, as well as the construction of new infrastructure and investment in community-development projects.

The Maya Museum in the state capital of Merida, featuring exhibits of little-known artifacts, and the Palace of Maya Civilization, located 11 kilometers (7 miles) from Chichen Itza, are among the infrastructure projects currently under construction as part of this program.