PORT LOUIS – Visitor arrivals to Mauritius fell by 9 percent between January and October this year versus the same period in 2008 as the global economic downturn buffeted long-haul luxury destinations like the Indian Ocean.
The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) said in a statement on Monday that tourist numbers for the period fell to 689,082 from 757,688.
“France and Reunion are the only markets to maintain an upward trend. They progressed by 3.2 percent and 7.4 percent respectively,” it said.
Best known for its azure waters, white beaches and luxury spas, the Indian Ocean nation has pursued an aggressive international marketing campaign and its hotels have offered big discounts as it fights to maintain market share.
The central Bank of Mauritius estimates revenues from the sector, a key motor of the almost $10 billion economy, will be around $1.2 billion for 2009, down more than 12 percent on last year.
The government is set to spend almost half a billion dollars on upgrading the palm-fringed island’s international airport and cruise-liner terminal. Mauritius, a nation of 1.3 million people aims to more than double visitor numbers to 2 million by 2015.