PORT LOUIS, May 20 (Reuters) - Mauritius’s earnings from tourism dropped 12.4 percent from a year earlier to 12.06 billion rupees ($386 million) in the first three months of this year as the weak economic environment in Europe hurt visitors’ spending.
Statistics Mauritius cut its forecast for visitor arrivals this year to 990,000 from a previous estimate of 1 million, but said it expected tourism revenue to increase to 46.1 billion rupees ($1.48 billion), from 44.3 billion in 2012.
Visitor numbers grew 1.5 percent to 265,838 in the first quarter of this year, but tourists from Europe, the biggest source of tourism on the Indian Ocean island, fell 7.5 percent to 158,722, the statistics office said.
The tourism sector is a driver of the island’s $10 billion economy. But long-haul luxury destinations like Mauritius have suffered during the global economic downturn. ($1 = 31.2500 Mauritius rupees) (Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Susan Fenton)