(CBS News) Mexico's ancient Mayan calendar runs out a week from Friday. And some people think that means we're doomed. But for others, all the speculation leads to an opportunity to do business.
The ancient Mayan ruins of Calakmul in southern Mexico is where it all began -- and where some say it will all end. The ancient Mayan calendar kept time for centuries, but it ends this year on December 21.
That so-called "end date" has sparked a doomsday craze, fueling fears that this is it -- the exact day the world will end.
The movie "2012" gave us an over-the-top, worst-case scenario, Mayan-inspired mayhem on a global scale. The film made more than $700 million worldwide. Other movies and documentaries have followed, also hoping to turn prophesies into profit with "2012: Ice Age," "2012: An Awakening," "2012: Doomsday." Even the National Geographic Channel is devoting hours of programming to the subject this month, showcasing doomsayers who are counting down their final days.
All this bad news is good news for Mexican tourism.
Luis Augusto Garcia, secretary of tourism for the state of Campeche, said, "It was really helpful that a lot of media gave attention as a catastrophic, in a catastrophic type of way to this date. We're having around 1.6 million visitors a year right now ... which is a pretty good number for what we were having before. And this number is growing at a very fast rate."
It's all about the numbers. George Sheperd, publisher of Survivalist magazine, said, "Survival business is a big business."
Survivalist magazine made the Mayan prophesies its cover story earlier this year. At a time when magazine sales are mostly down, Shepherd says he can't keep Survivalist on the shelves, with a 20 to 30 percent spike in sales.
All kinds of industries are looking to turn gloomy times into booming times. Websites like December212012.com will sell you survival gear and books, advertising "37 Things You Should Start Hoarding NOW." Even the TGI Fridays restaurant chain is offering a special Dec. 21 promotion called "The Last Friday." They're inviting their customers to "party like there's no tomorrow."
Shepherd said, 'I wouldn't say 'hysteria,' but the general concern about this issue is that a lot of people are taking advantage of this, because it's such a newsworthy topic."
David D'Eugenio runs a survival training school, HomeSafety Academy, in Florida. He can outfit a trailer with enough goods to let you safely outrun any apocalypse. He said, "The school came about because of need. It's been very, very successful. We have people from as many as 38 states who have come into town as far as Alaska, and we have a few that are outside the country as well."
A recent concert near the Mayan ruins was billed as a celebration, harkening the dawning of a new age as the old Mayan cycle comes to an end.
As to what that dawn will hold, well, we'll all know soon enough -- that is, if we're all still here on Dec. 22.
Watch Bill Whitaker's report in the video above.