July 11, 2014 / 10:29 AM / 5 years ago

Mauritius tourist arrivals rise in first half of year

Tourists watch bottlenose dolphins in Tamarin Bay on the West coast of Mauritius in a file photo. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - The number of tourists visiting Mauritius rose 4 percent in the first half of 2014, compared with the same period last year, on the back of higher arrivals from Asia, official figures showed on Friday.

Tourism is an important economic driver and a key source of hard currency for the Indian Ocean island, best known for its luxury spas and beaches.

Arrivals in the first six months of 2014 increased to 490,697 from 471,664 a year ago, Statistics Mauritius said. Numbers from Asia rose 26.6 percent to 81,193, driven by a growth of 86.9 percent from China.

The number of tourists visiting from Europe, which accounts for two-thirds of visitors to Mauritius, rose marginally by 0.8 percent to 266,295.

Last month the statistics agency said it expected arrivals for the full year to rise 3.5 percent to 1,030,000 while the Bank of Mauritius forecast tourism earnings at 44.4 billion Mauritius rupees ($1.49 billion), up from 40.6 billion in 2013.

$1 = 29.8500 Mauritian rupees

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