Mauritius welcomed 65,542 visitors in September, 16.8 per cent more than 12 months earlier, official figures show.

The first nine months of 2007 brought 644,821 tourists to the island, an increase of over 18 per cent on the same period of 2006, Reuters news agency reports.

Britons accounted for 16 per cent of the people who travelled to Mauritius this year, second only to French holidaymakers (19 per cent), while people from South Africa accounted for 13 per cent of visits.

Some 900,000 people are expected to visit the island destination in 2007 and by 2015 Mauritius could be welcoming two million travellers per year.

Situated in the south-west Indian Ocean, Mauritius lies off the east coast of the African continent and is approximately 560 miles from Madagascar.

It is part of the Mascarene island group, an archipelago that was formed following a series of volcanic eruptions.

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Tony Hill Helen Gillilan

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(Tony Hill and Helen Gillilan)

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Annual Visitor Increase In Mauritius