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Tourist arrivals to Mauritius climbed 1.5 percent in the first quarter as an increase in guests from Asia and Africa offset a decline in holidaymakers from the biggest source market, Europe.

The number of foreigners visiting the Indian Ocean island nation advanced to 265,838 in the first three months of 2013 from 261,995 a year earlier, Port Louis-based Statistics Mauritius, said in a statement on its website. Tourist numbers rose 9.5 percent to 91,759 in March from the year before.

Arrivals from Europe, which account for more than half of Mauritius’s tourists, declined 8 percent in the first quarter, with a decrease of visitors from Spain, Italy and France. The number of leisure travelers from Asia jumped 37 percent while arrivals from Africa rose 16 percent, according to the statistics office.

Tourism represented about 8.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product last year and it is one of the largest foreign exchange earners.

Editors: Sarah McGregor and Ben Holland.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christina Vilbrin in Johannesburg at To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at

Photo Credit: Asian tourists shade themselves from the midday Mauritian sun as they stroll along the beach. Jake Johnson / Flickr