Hotels near the Mayan city of Tikal are headed for "a full sell-out" for the events planned on Dec. 21 to mark the start of a new era for humanity in the Maya cosmology, Guatemalan National Tourism Institute director Pedro Duchez said.
"We have more than 95 percent of the rooms occupied, tours sold, airline seats reserved. The interest keeps rising as we get closer to Dec. 21," Duchez said.
Lodging in Peten, where Tikal is located, is nearly all booked, the tourism department chief said.
Tourists are flocking to Guatemala because the Mayan calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012, an event that some people consider an apocalyptic omen.
Tikal, one of the most important cities in the ancient Mayan world, will be the site of the 2012 "New Dawn for Humanity" world summit.
The event, which will take place Dec. 20-21, is being organized by the Guatemalan government as a gathering of "the most creative minds" in the world, drawing distinguished representatives of the world's different civilizations to welcome the new era predicted by the Mayans.
Canadian singer Neil Young, U.S. rocker Bruce Springsteen, Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, British singer-songwriter Elton John, Irish rock group U2 and the Jackson brothers are among the participants expected at the event.
The Mayan predictions for December 2012 were about the return of the god Bolon Yokte and not about the end of the world, experts say.
The Dec. 21, 2012, date found on Mayan glyphs led to speculation about Maya prophecies of the end of the world, prompting archaeologists and epigraphists to deny them.
The Mayans created a calendar based on 400-year periods, known as "baktuns," with each era made up of 13 cycles of 400 years that added up to 5,125 years.
The current era, according to their calculations, would end in December 2012, experts say.
In the Mayan cosmology, a cycle of creation was completed at the end of each era and another began.
Bolon Yokote is a god associated with creation and war that participated in the start of the current era, which began on Aug. 13 of 3114 B.C.
The idea that the pre-Hispanic civilization predicted the end of the world in 2012 has been popular in some New Age circles since the 1970s.