PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Mauritius' revenue from tourism rose 2.4 percent in the first half to end June from a year earlier, thanks to a jump in visitors from China, official data showed on Thursday.
Tourism is a key source of hard currency for the Indian Ocean island, best known for its luxury spas and beaches.
The country raked in 22.57 billion rupees ($735 million) during the period, Statistics Mauritius said in a statement.
Total tourist arrivals to the island rose by 4 percent to 490,697, driven by a growth of 86.9 percent in visitors from China, the statistics office said.
African nations, including Kenya, have been wooing Chinese tourists in recent years, to make up for shortfalls in visitors from Europe and America following the global financial crisis.
The number of tourist visiting Mauritius from Europe, which accounts for two-thirds of arrivals, inched up 0.8 percent to 266,295 in the first six months of this year.
Visitors from France fell by 4.3 percent, but the European nation remained the top source of tourists, contributing 24.2 percent of all arrivals in the first half.
There were 114 licensed hotels in Mauritius during the period with 105 in operation. The room occupancy rate rose from 60 percent in the first half of 2013 to 62 percent this year.
The statistics agency said it expected arrivals for 2014 to increase by 3.7 percent to 1,030,000 and earnings to rise by 9.7 percent to 44.50 billion rupees.
($1 = 30.7000 Mauritius rupees)