July 17 (Bloomberg) -- Mauritius tourist arrivals in the six months through June were below official forecasts, signaling a probable slowdown in economic growth this year. Air Mauritius Ltd. and hotel stocks declined.
Arrivals to the Indian Ocean island nation rose 0.5 percent from a year earlier to 467,153 in the period, Port Louis-based Statistics Mauritius said in a statement on its website today. The agency last month predicted a 1.6 percent increase in visitors this year. June arrivals were little changed from a year earlier at 54,625.
Tourism, one of Mauritius’s main sources of foreign currency, has been hurt by the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Visitors from France and other key European markets fell by 10 percent or more in June.
“It will surely affect growth,” said Swadicq Nuthay, an economist at Port Louis-based Axys Capital Management Ltd., which oversees $200 million of investments. “It wouldn’t be surprising to see a contraction next year in the industry.”
The data agency lowered its economic growth forecast for this year to 3.5 percent in June, the second reduction in three months.
Mauritius is luring visitors from Asia to compensate for the drop in European arrivals, Tourism Minister Michael Sik Yuen said on June 29. Visitors from China rose 59 percent to 9,633, according to the data agency.
Air Mauritius, which is sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth-biggest airline and accounts for about 50 percent of the country’s passenger traffic, declined 1.9 percent to 10.50 rupees, the lowest since June 22, at the 1:30 p.m. close of trading.
The carrier, along with hotel stocks, has led a 7.3 percent drop in the 38-member SEMDEX index this year. New Mauritius Hotels Ltd., Sun Resorts and Lux Island Resorts Ltd. account for about 10 percent of it.
Lux Island Resorts fell to a 40-month low, retreating 0.5 percent to 18.90 rupees. Sun Resorts Ltd fell 0.6 percent to 34.10 rupees, its weakest level since March 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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