Mauritius witnessed a rise of 3.7% year-on-year in tourist arrivals in January 2014 compared to January 2013, with 96,332 tourists visiting its shores last month.

Statistics Mauritius data showed that Asia, and China in particular, appear to be powering tourism in the island nation, with the continent and the country registering a rise of 65.5% and 289.7% respectively at 13,096 and 6,706 tourist footfalls each.

This is in line with the overall tourism focus in the Indian Ocean region where Mauritius and regional rivals like the Seychelles islands are now putting more emphasis on new markets in Asia to grow the tourism sector as they cannot rely on a struggling Europe.

The figures released recently by Statistics Mauritius served to reinforce last year’s trend, where tourist arrivals to the island are increasingly being propped up by a rise in tourists coming from the United Kingdom and China.

However, even as United Kingdom contributed a 10.7% rise in tourist arrivals to 6,271, Europe as a whole saw a 1.9% decline in footfalls to 50,548.

Coming to Africa, the region disappointed with tourist arrivals declining 3.8% from 30,678 a year ago to 29,504 for the month.

However, a country-wise break up showed that South Africa brought 6,160 tourists to Mauritius, a rise of 6.9%, while it was the neighbouring island of Reunion that was a let-down with 20,817 arrivals, representing a decline of 7.2% over the year-ago period.

Oceania countries, comprising Australia, New Zealand and others, also contributed to a rise in tourists, with a 16.5% increase in arrivals to 1,323 between January 2013 and last month.

North and South America taken together showed an uptrend with 1,772 visits, representing a rise of 16%. USA contributed a rise of 60.9% over tourists in the year-ago period, with total footfalls in January standing at 592. The region overall though, continues to be only a small proportion of total tourist footfalls to the island nation.

Last year, Mauritius tourism sector missed the 1 million mark, although it did come close to the targeted footfalls to end 2013 at 993,106 tourist arrivals in all.

The hospitality sector, a key pillar of the Mauritian economy, has been hit by a cut in the number of European long-haul holidays because the European Union is still reeling under the economic slowdown, leading to GDP growth of a mere 0.5% across the economic bloc.

For this year though, the IMF has forecast the GDP growth is expected to strengthen to 1 percent in 2014 and 1.4 percent in 2015, but the international financial body has warned that recovery in the Euro Zone will be uneven.

Image (via accommodation.io): Asia, and China in particular, appear to be powering tourism in the island nation, registering a rise of 65.5% and 289.7% respectively at 13,096 and 6,706 tourist footfalls each.