February 15, 2013 / 6:51 AM / 5 years ago

Mauritius tourist arrivals down 6 pct in January

PORT LOUIS, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Visitor numbers to Mauritius in January fell 6 percent year-on-year, as arrivals from Europe declined, the Indian Ocean island’s most important source market.

Amid a festering debt crisis and stagnant economic growth, Europeans have cut down on the number of long-haul holidays taken to sun-drenched destinations like the Indian Ocean.

Wary of its reliance on Europe, Mauritius and regional rivals like the Seychelles islands are increasingly looking to new markets in the Middle East and Asia to drive growth in tourism.

Statistics Mauritius said on Friday arrivals fell to 92,894 from 98,837 a year ago. The number of visitors from Europe dropped 13 percent and European tourists account for some two third of arrivals.

Arrivals from Asia rose 9 percent but numbered just 7,914.

The Port Louis government expects tourist numbers to hit the one million mark this year after they were flat in 2012. (Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Richard Lough and Patrick Graham)

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