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TRAVEL > Şirince village readies for ‘Doomsday’ events

İZMIR

Şirince sees a boost in tourism as believers in the Mayan calendar flock to the city, whose positive energy could help weather the apocalypse. Officials warn locals and say not to leave tourists with bad impressions

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Anatolian town, Şirince has received a boost in tourism as believers in the Mayan calendar flock to the city, whose positive energy could help weather the apocalypse.
DHA photo

Anatolian town, Şirince has received a boost in tourism as believers in the Mayan calendar flock to the city, whose positive energy could help weather the apocalypse. DHA photo

Believers in the Mayan calendar’s doomsday prediction of Dec. 21 are flooding Şirince, a small village in İzmir. Some New Age spiritualists are convinced that the Anatolian town is the only safe haven from the impending apocalypse foretold by certain interpretations of Mayan hieroglyphs, Agence France Press (AFP) has reported.

When asked about the Dec. 21 doomsday, Turkish Cultural and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said, “According to our beliefs and scientific data, there is nothing like a doomsday on Dec. 21 but people who want to see such a beautiful region for this reason are all welcome.”

Günay said they were not opposed to legends for the sake of tourism and supported such stories as they contributed to their promotion. “It makes the name of Şirince heard not only in Turkey but around the world. Those who cannot find a place may find a good chance to have a nice breakfast there on Dec. 22.”

A new tradition

He said that the event was very important for the promotion of Şirince and that it could turn into a Dec. 21 tradition. “I will ask my friends and Şirince artisans not to increase prices and offer bad products to tourists. This could be a good promotional chance because people may visit the region again if they leave with good impressions.”

Speaking to Anatolia news agency, the İzmir Culture and Tourism Director Abdülaziz Ediz also asked artisans to take care in preventing visitors from leaving Şirince with bad impressions.

He said that faith and culture tourism has already made İzmir a central attraction. “Thanks to this doomsday belief, the number of people visiting Şirince and Selçuk has increased… We can’t ignore people who have such a belief but we cannot think that the doomsday will occur. State organizations must take necessary measures as the number of visitors will increase there. But shopkeepers should not turn this into a chance to plunder. They should take care of health and hygiene conditions as well.”

In addition to the positive energy that the doomsday believers attribute to Şirince, the village is located close to the area where Christians believe the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven, AFP reported.

The Mayan prophecy

The Mayan prophecy has sparked a tourism boom in the town of 600 inhabitants, which is now expected to host more than 60,000 visitors according to local media. “It is the first time we witnessed such an interest during the winter season,” Ilkan Gülgün, a hotel owner in Şirince, was quoted as saying.

He said the tourists at his hotel believed that the positive energy of Şirince would save them from an apocalyptic catastrophe. An ancient Greek village, Şirince is home to boutique hotels attracting Turkey’s wealthy class. It is also well known for its wine.

Turkish businessman Erkan Önoğlu produced a special “wine of the Apocalypse” for Dec. 21, a product specially targeting superstitious survivalists, according to the daily Radikal.

A resident of Şirince working in the hotel business, İbrahim Katan welcomed the enthusiasm of tourists in the village, hoping that local businesses can benefit from the boom. “The rumors floating around have increased the number of customers. We are only happy about it,” he told AFP.

December/17/2012

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