The number of tourists visiting Mauritius rose 5 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, helped by a rise in arrivals from France, one the Indian Ocean island's most important markets.
The Central Statistics Office said tourist arrivals for the first three months of 2011 reached 262,626 against 249,971 a year ago. Visitors from France climbed 8.3 percent while arrivals from Europe as a whole rose 2.3 percent to 176,460.
Tourism typically generates about 10 percent of gross domestic product for Mauritius' $10 billion economy. European tourists account for some two-thirds of arrivals.
The industry was hit by the fallout from the global economic slowdown. Visitor numbers are starting to increase, although discounting by hotels to attract business has kept shares in resort operators well below peaks hit in early 2008.
The CSO said at the end of March there were 115 registered hotels of which 112 were in operation with a room capacity of 12,082 and 24,664 bedplaces. The average room occupancy rate for all hotels for the first quarter of 2011 was 69 percent.
The CSO maintained its forecast for 980,000 tourist arrivals in 2011, representing an increase of 4.8 percent from 934,827 a year earlier.
The Bank of Mauritius said tourism receipts for the first quarter rose 8.4 percent to 11.95 billion rupees from 11.02 billion rupees in the same period of 2010.
The central bank expects tourism earnings for the year to climb to 42.5 billion Mauritius rupees from 39.5 billion thanks to higher arrivals