afrol News, 23 February - Tourist arrivals for the year 2007 are expected to reach 850,000 representing a growth of 7.8 percent, the government of Mauritius revealed today. Gross tourism receipts for 2007 were expected to be around rupees 35.9 billion (euro 828 million), compared to rupees 31.9 billion (euro 736 million) last year.
According to the Mauritian Central Statistics Office, the forecasted increase in tourist arrivals was to result from the following factors: market diversification, liberalisation of air access and increased seat capacity on the national airline with the acquisition of an aircraft in December 2006 and another one in 2007.
Figures published in the latest issue of the government agency's 'Economic Indicators' showed that tourist arrivals grew by 3.6 percent from 761,063 in 2005 to 788,276 in 2006. Last year, authorities indeed had expected a more negative development as the Chikungunya virus was causing bad publicity for the region.
The majority of last year's tourists to the Indian Ocean island - that is, 90 percent of the tourists - came for holidays while only 4.1 percent were on business or conference trips and another 3.8 percent were in transit, national statistics revealed.
In 2006, tourist arrivals from Europe had reached 510,479. Out of that, results were differing strongly from country to country. France, which normally is Mauritius' main market in the tourist sector, decreased by 17.3 percent. It was also in France, where news of the Chikungunya epidemic mostly reached media headlines. At the same time, however, arrivals from the UK increased by 7.3 percent, from Germany by 2.3 percent and from Italy by an astonishing 59.7 percent.
As regards arrivals from Africa, statistics had shown a growth of 2.3 percent to reach 189,458 visitors. Also, a 22.2 percent increase was noted in the arrival of tourists from the Asian market reaching 60,121 in 2006. Arrivals from America had recorded an increase of 10.6 percent, with 9,789 tourists.
Also the Mauritian tourism infrastructure is growing along with the increase in arrivals, statistics had show. As at the end of December 2006, there were 98 registered hotels in operation, with a total room capacity of 10,666 and 21,403 bed places. The average room occupancy rate for all hotels was 66 percent while bed occupancy rate averaged 59 percent.
According to the Mauritian state 'Survey of Employment and Earnings', direct employment in travel and tourism establishments employing 10 persons or more stood at 25,798 at the end of March 2006. Of this number, 19,500 were engaged in hotels.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.