Tourism booming at towns believed to offer Mayan apocalypse protection

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    The village of Bugarach in France is being inundated with booking requests from believers of the Mayan prophecy. (Reuters)

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    June 24, 2011: The Bugarach mountain peak in southern France. (AP)

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    In Sirince, Turkey hotel bookings have reached record proportions. (Reuters)

Believers in the 2012 Mayan doomsday prophesy are heading for the hills.

Dec. 21 marks the end of the Mayan the 5,125-year Long Count calendar. While some think this date signifies the beginning of a new era, others say it will be the end of the world. NASA has refuted the idea that the humanity will not see Dec. 23, but some people aren’t taking any chances. Here are three destinations that are experiencing (slightly unwelcomed) tourism booms thanks to the doomsday hype.

Bugarach, France

Apocalypse pilgrims have been planning to flee to the remote French town of Bugarach near the Pyrenees for years. Some New Age enthusiasts, UFO seekers and Armageddon believers are convinced that the peak of Pic de Bugarach mountain is the only place on Earth that will withstand the Mayan predicted Dec. 21 end of the world. According to an online rumor, aliens will emerge from their “spaceship garage” within the mountain to save the lucky few.

Unfortunately for those making the journey, authorities will be blocking access to the peak of Pic de Bugarach mountain, which is said to be a “safe zone,” from Dec. 19-23.

Mayor Jean-Pierre Delord told the Guardian that it’s not the end of the world he is worried about.

“This is the 183rd end-of-the-world prophecy since antiquity,” he said. “But I can’t take the risk of a lot of people coming here, trying to climb the mountain and getting hurt.”

Mount Rtanj, Serbia

Others are turning to Serbia’s pyramid-shaped Mount Rtanj to protect them from doomsday. Like Bugarach, some believe that the mountain in the Carpathian range, actually hides an alien space ship, and they are booking up rooms at hotels at the base of the mountain as if, well, it were the end of the world.

“In one day we had 500 people trying to book rooms. People want to bring their whole families,” Obrad Blecic, a hotel manager, told the Telegraph.

Sirince, Turkey

Sirince is another popular location for doomsday believers. The small Turkish town near the Aegean Sea, which is near the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, is a favorite of new age groups because of its “special energy.” Some have deemed it the birthplace of the Greek goddess Artemis, as well as the location in Christianity from with the Virgin Mary ascended into heaven. And where is Sirince located? Why, on a hill of course.

Demand for hotel rooms has skyrocketed, and emergency shelters may be necessary to house visitors who cannot find rooms.

“Bookings have been up since about a month ago,” Sevan Nisanyan told The Nation. “I have people in my hotel from as far away as Indonesia, and they say that they are coming to try escape the possible end of the world.”