My latest column in Huffington Post Travel, “The Maya World Braces For 2012 Apocalypse, Tourism Boom”  is about a projected tourism bump to southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. These are the countries and regions which make up the Mundo Maya , a truly unique part of the world which is worthy of all the attention it is sure to get in 2012.
Despite the title of my article (which I did not write), this piece is not about the end times. It is about tourism. It has some pretty photos I took around the Mundo Maya. Nobody I know is "bracing for the apocalypse" but many people I know will welcome a few more visitors this year.
Hopefully, foreigners’ genuine curiosity and interest in the Maya people, culture, and history will result in an economic boost for the people in these regions who can really use it. From the article:
Katie Valk, founder and director of Belize-Trips.com , is a Belize travel specialist who is already seeing increased bookings for 2012 over last year. When clients ask about visiting Maya communities, she often steers them to the southern Toledo district , where several programs try to ensure rural Maya communities see some of the trickle-down from tourism.
People in the Maya communities of Toledo, she says, are divided on the issues of oil drilling and hardwood extraction from protected areas, which is not difficult to understand with so many people living below the poverty level.
"We need to include these people in any benefits derived [from tourism]," says Ms. Valk, "and offer attractive employment opportunities working to protect, rather than destroy, the environment."