UFO watchers and light aircraft have been banned from the flat topped Pic de Bugarach
People looking to escape the “end of the world” are driving up one-way flight searches to villages deemed safe havens, figures suggest.
The Mayan calendar comes to an end on December 21 but, while many in Mexico will be celebrating a new start, some spiritualists believe the occasion will herald the apocalypse.
Bugarach in the south of France and Şirince in Turkey are places where some doomsday believers think they will be saved.
Figures from the flight booking website Skyscanner suggest that searches for flights to the south of France are up 41 per cent in the week before December 21, from the UK alone. This is when compared to the previous week, December 7 – 13.
Şirince in Turkey is also experiencing a rush – with 30 per cent more searches for one-way flights recorded.
Both villages are capitalising on their sudden fame, with prices at hotel rooms in Şirince, a village in Selçuk with a population of 570, increasing from anywhere between 100 – 500 TL to 3,000 TL, according to a Turkish news agency. Şirince is considered special as some believe it to be the birthplace of the Greek goddess Artemis and also the place where Mary, the mother of Jesus, ascended to heaven.
Meanwhile residents in Bugarach, an even smaller village of 179 in the French Pyrenees, are reportedly offering their houses for rent at $1,600 a night. The mayor, Jean-Pierre Delord, has previously expressed concerns about the village being "flooded from all the corners of the earth".
In an attempt to prevent pandemonium local authorities have banned UFO watchers and light aircraft from the flat topped mountain of Pic de Bugarach.
According to New Age lore it as an "alien garage" where extraterrestrials are waiting to abandon Earth, taking a lucky few humans with them.
Skyscanner’s Victoria Bailie said: “We were surprised to see how big an increase there has been in searches for flights to the South of France and to Izmir in Turkey leading up to the 21st December: the date of the Mayan prophecy.”
However, not everyone believes the end of the world is nigh, and some things, at least, continue as normal.
The website also reports that December 22 looks to be the busiest day for flights this year, as people get away and plan to visit family for more traditional Christmas festivities.