The number of tourists visiting Mauritius fell by 0.8% in the first quarter of this year compared with the same quarter a year ago, when it grew by 1.5%.

Lower tourist arrivals last month, especially from the traditional European markets, were responsible for the decline, after a good build up in January and February.

Accordingly, tourist arrivals, which hit 265,838 in the first quarter of 2013, have dipped by 2,122 footfalls in the comparative three month period from January to March 2014. Also, compared to the year ago period, tourists in March 2014 at 88,400 were lower by 3,359, against 91,759 visitors in March 2013.

However, on the positive side, tourist arrivals for March 2014 were higher compared to the 78,984 footfalls in February 2014, showing a rise in visitors to the island economy on a month-on-month basis for this year.

Europe, which continues to send around two-thirds of overall visitors to the island economy, contributed the most to the quarterly tourist dip of 0.8% as visitors from the continent declined 4.3%. France, in particular, registered a major decline of 4% for the quarter ended March 2014.

However, the figures were an improvement over last year, when Europe and France witnessed a decline of 7.5% and 12.8% respectively.

In addition, Africa disappointed with a 6.2% dip in tourist arrivals for the quarter ended March 2014 compared to the corresponding year-ago period when it showed 16% growth.

Within the continent, the Vanilla Island of Comoros was a major let-down with tourist arrivals plunging 14.3% compared to the quarterly figure for March 2013 when a 27.0% growth was seen.

However, Zimbabwe bolstered quarterly tourist arrivals to the island with a rise of 14% in visitors to Mauritius, compared to a dip of 29.4% for the corresponding period last year.

Also, the combined share of North and South America rose 12.6% where last year at the same quarterly period it amounted to -19.0 % where this year it is set at -0.9 %.

Asian arrivals also rose 29.4% for the quarterly period ended March 2014, but displayed a lower rise than last year when they increased by 36.5%.

Finally, Oceania which comprises Australia and New Zealand, saw its share come down by 5.9% for the first quarter this year, compared to last year where it grew its share by 1.5%.

Overall, 1,025,000 tourists are anticipated to arrive in Mauritius and tourism receipts are forecast at Rs 44,550 million by the Bank of Mauritius for the full year.

Image (Tropical Experience): Lower tourist arrivals last month, especially from the traditional European markets, were responsible for the decline, after a good build up in January and February.
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