Tourism, third pillar of the economy after the E.P.Z. manufacturing sector and Agriculture, contributes significantly to economic growth and has been a key factor in the overall development of Mauritius. In the past two decades tourist arrivals increased at an average annual rate of 9 % with a corresponding increase of about 21% in tourism receipts. In 2000, gross tourism receipts were 14.2 billion rupees (508.3 million US $) and contributed to about 11 % of our GDP. Tourism may be called to play an even more important role in the wake of the After-GATT Agreements.
Tourist arrivals have been expanding consequently, thus rising from 103,000 in 1977 to 656,450 in 2000, a more than six-fold increase. About 67% of the tourist arrivals are of European origin, with France supplying nearly half. The nearby Reunion French Territory is the most important short haul source market accounting for about 13% of total tourist arrivals. Asian residents provided 6% of tourist arrivals, almost half of which originated from the Indian Sub-Continent.
In 2000, total number of nights spent by tourist was estimated to about 6.5 million, representing an increase of 13% over 1999. The average length of stay works out to around 10 nights and average expenditure per tourist reached about Rs. 22,000
Based on the favourable growth registered in tourist arrivals, it is estimated that arrivals for the year 2001 would be around 700,000 (+10%) with total gross receipts of the order of 15,500 million rupees.
Mauritius is predominantly a holiday destination for beach-resort tourists. It possesses a wide range of natural and man-made attractions, enjoys a sub-tropical climate with clear warm sea waters, attractive beaches, tropical fauna and flora complemented by a multi-ethnic and cultural population that is friendly and welcoming. These tourism assets are, its main strength, especially since they are backed up by well-designed and run hotels, and reliable and operational services and infrastructures. The hosts are being seen product and the "hospitality atmosphere" has more and more as the nucleus of the tourism been receiving increasing attention.
The National Tourism Policy emphasizes low impact, high spending tourism. Selective, up-market, quality tourism is favoured, and although such tourism is not the only type, it constitutes the major segment of our tourists who stay in high class hotels.
In 1997, there were 87 hotels with a total capacity of 6,800 rooms and 14,100 bedplaces. Average room occupancy rates were 72% for all hotels and 78% for large hotels (defined as established beach hotels with more than 80 rooms). Figures for bed occupancy rates were 64% and 70% respectively. The most prestigious beach side resort hotels are owned and/or operated by large groups such as Sun International and Beachcomber. Many of the beach resort hotels are internationally recognised for their very high quality. It is estimated that around 25% of visitors stay in non-hotel accommodation, such as boarding houses, self-catering bungalows and with friends and relatives.