Visitor arrivals to Mauritius rose by 1.3 percent between in July from a year earlier, buoyed by an increase in tourists from China and South Africa, the government said on Friday.

Tourism typically generates about 10 percent of gross domestic product for Mauritius' $11 billion economy. European tourists account for some two-thirds of arrivals.

Government said 78,034 tourists visited the Indian Ocean island in July, up from 77,009 a year ago. It said arrivals from China grew by 147.3 percent and South Africa by 53.1 percent.

Between January and July 542,638 tourists came to Mauritius against 516,159 a year earlier.

Last July Air Mauritius, the national airline started direct flight to China in a move to boost tourism in the island, which is suffering from the downturn in Europe.

Mauritius is a popular holiday destination, famed for its azure seas, white beaches and luxury spas. But the European economic slowdown has weighed heavily on tourism and the government is keen to develop new Asian markets.