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.
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.
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.