The national flag of Mozambique. File picture: Grant Neuenburg

The number of foreign tourists visiting Mozambique rose 11 percent last year, the tourist board said Monday.

Arrivals to the southern African country increased from 1.8 million in 2010 to around two million in 2011.

National tourism director Martinho Muatxiwa said the increase was no surprise as Mozambique was striving to promote its image abroad, two decades after a 16-year civil conflict ended.

“The Mozambican government is working hard to promote the country overseas,” he told AFP.

More than half of the visitors were from South Africa.

The sector represents 42,000 jobs and spending by tourists rose from $197 million in 2010 to $231 million last year.

“It is a big jump. Spending by foreign tourists went up 17 percent,” said Muatxiwa.

Promoting itself as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, the country's major draw card is its 3,000 kilometre (1,800 miles) long coastline of mostly unspoilt beaches. - Sapa-AFP