Abu Dhabi has reached a new milestone in its cruise tourism development with the arrival of the MSC Lirica – the first luxury vessel to homeport in the UAE capital.
Arriving from Genoa, Italy, the 59,000 tonne MSC Lirica was given a warm Abu Dhabi welcome with a spectacular fireworks display.
MSC Lirica will set sail tomorrow on the first of 19, eight day/seven night itineraries for the 2011/2012 season cruising around the Arabian Gulf calling at Muscat, Al Fujairah, Khasab in Oman and Dubai with 95 calls and rotations.
The ceremony attended by HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), who told guests the MSC Lirica would be remembered for breaking new ground in Abu Dhabi.
“We hope she has set a course that many others will follow,” he said.
The home porting of MSC Lirica follows the signing, a year ago, of an agreement between ADTA and MSC Cruises to deploy one vessel on a homeport basis in Abu Dhabi.
Since then, the two partners have jointly participated in trade exhibitions, marketing and advertising campaigns globally and brought their combined influence, channels and brands to bear in promoting the emirate.
ADTA chairman HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan with Pierfrancesco Vago, chief executive, MSC Cruises
Pierfrancesco Vago, chief executive, MSC Cruises, commented: “I am proud of what we’ve achieved so far and confident that this is just the beginning of a great new era for cruise tourism in the United Arab Emirates.
“I look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship between us, the port and tourism authorities and one that will ensure visitors from around the world an exciting new dimension to travel in the region.
“It is a future we can all look forward to.”
ADTA has estimated that MSC’s decision to home port the ship in Abu Dhabi will generate US$21.9 million in direct economic impact on the tourism, airline, accommodation, retail, transport, F&B and attractions sectors.
Cruise tourism has been prioritized as a core pillar in Abu Dhabi’s tourism targets which aim to achieve 2.3 million hotel guests by the end of next year.
Abu Dhabi anticipates receiving around 170,000 cruise visitors before the 2011/2012 season ends next April.