Costa Crociere S.p.A., the largest Italian travel group and Europe’s n.1 cruise company, has been awarded the “2010 Leonardo Prize for Italian Quality”.  The “Premio Leonardo” awards, which have been assigned annually by the Leonardo Committee since 1993, are considered the Oscars for Italian entrepreneurs who have made the greatest contributions to promoting and enhancing the country’s image of excellence, thus fostering “Italian-made” quality around the world.

In its citation for the prize, the Leonardo Committee commended the Italian Group’s “vocation for innovation and excellence applied to corporate management processes, product quality, and originality in environmental protection”. In the last ten years Costa Crociere Group has witnessed spectacular growth, quintupling both the number of its total Guests, that rose to 2.15 million in 2010, and its consolidated revenues, that reached 2.85 billion euros in 2010.

During the prize-giving ceremony, held this morning at the Palazzo del Quirinale, the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano presented the Prize for Italian Quality to Pier Luigi Foschi, Chairman & CEO of the Group headquartered in Genoa.

 “On behalf of Costa Crociere I am extremely delighted to accept this award, which reflects and rewards the commitment of companies like ours that are global ambassadors for Italian style and entrepreneurial culture, and whose hallmarks are passion, innovation and quality,” said Costa Crociere S.p.A. Chairman & CEO Pier Luigi Foschi.  “These values are part of our Company’s DNA and they are aspects that we concentrate on so as to achieve our objectives.  Year after year our efforts have been rewarded, consolidating the success and leadership of the Costa cruise, which has become synonymous worldwide with an Italian welcome, service excellence and hospitality.  In a few months’ time, in July, the Costa Favolosa – a new Costa fleet member, built entirely in Italy – will enter service, bearing witness once again to our country’s know-how and expertise.”

Costa Cruises’ long-established international success as a roving ambassador for Italian-made excellence is the result of a corporate philosophy based on continuous innovation and the pursuit of the highest quality standards in the Company’s product and services.

The pursuit of excellence is readily apparent on board Costa’s ships, all designed and built in compliance with the strictest safety and environmental protection standards and characterized by a unique inimitable style; the Costa Cruises fleet, the only one flying the Italian flag, currently comprises 14 ships, though – thanks to the 2 ships on order, the Costa Favolosa (114,500 gross tonnage and 3780 total Guests) and her sister ship Costa Fascinosa – it will be 16-strong by 2012.  The construction of each new building at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard involves the labor of around 3,000 direct employees and also 7,000 employees of contracted suppliers. Most of the firms working at the construction of the ships are Italian firms.

This morning’s awards ceremony was attended by the Italian Minister for Economic Development Paolo Romani, the Chairman of the ICE (“Istituto Italiano per il Commercio Estero”, or Italian Institute of Foreign Trade) Umberto Vattani, the Chair of Confindustria (Confederation of Italian Industry) Emma Marcegaglia and the Chair of the Leonardo Committee Luisa Todini.

In addition to Pier Luigi Foschi, other recipients of Italian Quality Prizes for 2010 were Gianpietro Benedetti (Chairman & CEO of Danieli & c. Officine Meccaniche), Sonia Bonfiglioli (Chair & CEO of Gruppo Bonfiglioli) and Cosimo Rummo (Chairman of Rummo SpA). Laura Biagiotti (Chair of the Biagiotti Group) was awarded the Leonardo Prize 2010.