(Reuters) - Tourism earnings in the Seychelles rose by 17 percent to 3 billion rupees ($250.83 million), the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday.
Tourism is the Indian Ocean archipelago's mainstay and earnings growth from the sector accelerated from 5 percent the previous year despite a slowdown in the number of visitors.
Visitor arrivals grew 7 percent in 2012 to 208,034, slowing from an 11 percent increase in 2011, the statistics office said.
While the bulk of visitors last year came from the traditional European market there was little growth. Arrivals from Asia increased at a faster rate with many coming from China.
Seychelles is a popular holiday destination, famed for its azure waters, white beaches and luxury spas. However, the slowdown in European economies has weighed heavily on tourism and the government is looking to develop new Asian markets.
The country forecasts modest growth in tourism of 3 percent this year.
The sector has struggled to grow as the euro zone debt crisis has hit European travellers, while the Seychelles is vulnerable to volatility in global food and fuel prices.
Seychelles economic growth is expected to reach 3 percent in 2013 while inflation has slowed to 3.6 percent.
($1 = 11.9601 Seychelles rupees)
Originally posted on Reuters.com