PORT LOUIS – Mauritius saw a 17.7 percent decline in gross tourism receipts in the first half of 2009 as the global economic slump discouraged visitors, official data showed on Wednesday.
The government’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) said tourist arrivals to the palm-fringed Indian Ocean island tumbled 9.3 percent to 413,504, compared with the same period last year.
“Gross tourism receipts for the first half of 2009 were estimated at 18.25 billion rupees, that is a decrease of 17.7 percent compared to the 22.17 billion rupees for the same period the preceding year,” it said in a statement.
Long-haul luxury destinations such as the Indian Ocean have suffered as the global economic slowdown changes consumer spending habits worldwide.
Mauritius, which is best known for its azure waters, white beaches and luxury spas, has pursued an aggressive international marketing campaign while its hotels have offered heavy discounts as it fights to maintain market share.
Tourism revenue for the whole year is forecast to be around 38.2 billion rupees, 7.3 percent down on the 41.2 billion rupees generated in 2008.
Arrivals from Europe fell by 6.9 percent to 278, 621, led by a 19.1 percent decline in German arrivals, a 14.3 percent decline in Italian arrivals and a 6.9 percent fall in visitors from Britain. France, Mauritius’ leading market, bucked the trend with a 2.0 percent increase.
Visitor numbers from Asia, a market the island is increasingly looking to tap, decreased by 18.8 percent to 29,859. Arrivals from China fell by 10.0 percent, the United Arab Emirates by 17.1 percent and Japan by 18.9 percent.
Last week, Mauritius’ leading hotel groups including Naiade Resorts NRL.MZ and New Mauritius Hotels NMH.MZ posted sharp declines in post tax profit.
The CSO said the average room occupancy rate for all hotels during the first half of 2009 was 59 percent, compared with 71 percent during the same period last year.