August 16, 2011 / 12:19 PM / 9 years ago

Madagascar sees tourism boost as crisis eases

A Ring Tail lemur hides between leafs at the Lemurs Park, a private eco-tourism enterprise which hosts nine species, at 22 km (14 miles) from Antananarivo December 5, 2006. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - The number of tourists visiting Madagascar jumped 16 percent in the first half of 2011 from a year earlier, official data showed on Tuesday, helped by a more stable environment as the Indian Ocean island emerged from a two-year political crisis.

The National Institute of Statistics said 100,692 visitors took their holidays on the island famed for its leaping lemurs and tropical rainforests, generating $71.9 million for the ailing economy in the first half.

Madagascar’s tourism industry is a key source of foreign exchange for the country.

Popular with French and Italian holidaymakers, the sector took a battering in 2009 after images of deadly anti-government protests that paved the way for a coup, were beamed around the world.

Madagascar is expecting a rebound in tourist numbers this year to levels last seen before the crisis, forecasting 255,000 arrivals.

Madagascar’s tourism revenues reached $430 million in 2008.

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