BEIRUT – MSC Cruises announced four Beirut Port calls for its future cruise itineraries bringing new economic revenues for the city’s growing tourism industry at a conference held in the Four Seasons Hotel in Downtown.
The announcement was made alongside the unveiling of Wild Discovery as the cruise liners’ new Lebanon general sales agent.
Sandro J. Saadé, CEO of Wild Discovery and Achille Staiano, MSC Cruises Commercial Manager International Market, introduced the common vision and objectives of both brands as well as the dynamism of the Lebanese market.
With MSC Cruises happening all year round in the Mediterranean, the new partnerships could have far-reaching implications on the local tourism trade with MSC currently boasting over 17 million customers a year on its cruise ships.
Achille Staiano spoke of MSC’s determination to bring more tourism to Lebanon.
“Our affiliation with Wild Discovery is a sign of our commitment to Lebanon as a tourist destination,” Staiano said. “Our new port calls in Beirut will bring tourism money for taxi drivers, restaurants and [other businesses].”
“The winter weather in Lebanon is important to our plans as we see it as a place to take passengers and grow our winter economy.”
Staiano also told The Daily Star of his delight in working with a local travel agent like Wild Discovery.
“Wild Discovery is a family business like [MSC] so they have the same passion as we do as well as that [Wild Discovery] is a concrete company with a solid brand and it is run by [honest] people.”
Wild Discovery will be working exclusively as a travel agent for MSC, looking after much of the logistics and travel arrangements for holidaymakers.
“Wild Discovery will accompany MSC also on sales and distribution,” Staiano told The Daily Star. “Working with Wild Discovery is definitely a great opportunity to grow our business in Lebanon and the Middle East,” he added.
MSC is currently the world’s fourth-largest cruise company and employs over 12,000 staff and has earned international certification by Bureau Veritas for being the first company to receive “6 Golden Pearls” for environmental care.
MSC has also invested $6 billion in the Arab world to help spread its itineraries around the world.
Wild Discovery also plans to expand further into the cruise industry seeing it as a chance to market “innovative products, amenities and services.”
MSC currently has 11 vessels worldwide and has seen a major upturn in fortunes over the last six years with the Italian family-owned firm experiencing rapid expansion and ship building despite the global financial crisis.
“The financial crisis has helped us,” Staiano said. “People are stressed and have started to save money for important things like holidays,” he added.
“People are also looking for greater value for money which suits us well as are costs are accessible even though we offer so much.”