PORT LOUIS, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Mauritius cut its 2012 tourist arrival forecast for a second time this year on Tuesday to 960,000, from 980,000, citing weak economic conditions in its key markets in Europe, its statistics body said.
In 2011 tourist arrivals to Mauritius reached 964,642.
Tourism is a cornerstone of the Indian Ocean island’s economy and the government forecasts the sector will account for 7.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2012, down from 8.4 percent last year.
Visitors from Europe, who account for two-thirds of arrivals, dropped 6 percent to 279,643 in the first six months of this year. Arrivals from France, the island’s main market fell 30 percent year-on-year in July to 15,633.
Bank of Mauritius said tourism receipts in 2012 would be around 42.5 billion, down from 42.7 billion in 2011.
The Indian Ocean island nation is seeking to tap new markets, especially in Asia, to make up for the slowdown in its traditional markets in Europe. (Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by George Obulutsa and Susan Fenton)