Mauritius Cuts Tourism Estimate; Hotel, Airline Shares Drop

Mauritius cut its forecast for tourism arrivals this year, sending hotel and airline shares down, as the debt crisis in Europe curbs demand.

The estimate was reduced to 980,000 from 1.01 million, the Port Louis-based official statistics agency said on its website today. The country attracted 964,642 visitors in 2011.

Tourism and textiles are the main sources of foreign currency for the Indian Ocean island nation, and almost two- thirds of visitors last year came from Europe. The European Commission forecasts a 0.3 percent contraction in the Eurozone’s economy this year. Visitor numbers declined from a year earlier in December and January, two of Mauritius’s peak tourism months.

“We shouldn’t be over-optimistic, taking into account the economic downturn in Europe,” Swadicq Nuthay, an economist at Axys Capital Management Ltd in Port Louis, which oversees assets of 5 billion rupees ($173 million), said in a phone interview. “The industry, unfortunately, hasn’t been proactive enough in its market diversification strategy.”

New Mauritius Hotels Ltd. (NMHMP), the country’s largest leisure operator by market value, dropped 2.1 percent to 70 rupees, the lowest since March 2009. Sun Resorts Ltd. (SUN), the second-largest resort group, fell 1.2 percent to 41 rupees. Lux Island Resorts Ltd. (NRL) retreated 1.4 percent to 21.90 rupees, its lowest level since Dec. 21. Air Mauritius Ltd. (AML), sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth biggest airline, retreated 0.8 percent to 12 rupees.

“The mood has been negative for a while,” said Bhavik Desai, a research analyst at Axys Stockbroking Ltd. “It was an expected downward revision which should have already been factored in.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kamlesh Bhuckory in Port Louis at kbhuckory@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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