(Bloomberg) -- Mauritius has seen an influx of visitors from Europe seeking respite from summer heat waves, protests and the fallout from the war in Ukraine.   

Tourism revenue in the Indian Ocean island surged almost 70% to 35.8 billion rupees ($779 million) in the first five months of the year compared with the same period in 2022, data published by the central bank last week showed. Receipts are forecast to rise 23% to 80 billion rupees for the full year, Harvesh Seegolam, the bank’s governor, said last month. 

Mauritius’s sandy white beaches have long been a draw for tourists, despite being an expensive long-haul destination — it lies about 9,600 kilometers (6,000 miles) from Western Europe — and its tourism industry has become more competitive with the rupee depreciating against the euro. The number of visitors continue to lag pre-pandemic levels however, although they tend to stay for longer and spend more. 

Tourist arrivals surged 58% to 596,446 in the first half compared with the year-ago period, the national statistics agency said earlier this month. The number of visitors from France jumped 60% and from Germany by 36%, while those from Russia almost doubled.

This year is set to be “exceptional” for New Mauritius Hotels Ltd., one of the country’s largest hotel operators, with forward bookings looking very positive, said Stephane Poupinel de Valence, its new chief executive officer.

Some major airlines have additional flights to Mauritius, which has helped support the hospitality industry, according to Nicolas Messian, the general manager of LUX* Grand-Baie, a five-star luxury hotel on the northwestern coast of which opened in December 2021.

--With assistance from Rene Vollgraaff.

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