Millions of additional dirhams are set to pour into Abu Dhabi's tourism coffers following an agreement to make the capital a home port for an Italian cruise line.
According to an agreement signed by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and the Italian operator MSC Cruises, the capital's Mina Zayed Port will serve, from October 2011, as the primary embarkation and disembarkation point for the luxury ship MSC Lirica, capable of carrying 2,199 passengers in her 784 cabins.
The Emirate's elevation from port-of-call to home port is expected to bring in additional 43,000 tourists from major European countries, bringing with it over Dh135 million per cruising season in net economic benefit via the capital's tourism sector.
"MSC Cruises is proud to become the first cruise company to choose Abu Dhabi as a home port," said Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of the company.
"With our state-of-the-art vessel MSC Lirica operating 95 calls and rotating in the region, our presence will have a significant impact on Abu Dhabi's tourism Industry."
Between October 2011 and March 2012, MSC Lirica will make 19 eight-day/seven-night cruises from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, Fujairah, Bahrain, Dubai and back to the capital.