Shipping calendars these days are so frenzied that as soon as one event ends, a raft of others hove into view. As London International Shipping Week (LISW) completed its second edition successfully last week, it has been succeeded by two other ‘shipping weeks’ this week, in Cyprus and Genoa.
The fact is that every hub these days feels it necessary to bolt on a shipping week to extend its credentials as an aspiring international maritime centre. Aspiring is the key here. LISW was formed as a much belated reaction to so many cities keen to take London’s mantle as a top shipping services centre. London, for so many years the top dog in world shipping, has seen its influence erode from places with more long term vision (and deeper pockets).
One study from Norway in May this year placed the British capital a distant sixth in a list of global maritime centres, something I think is a bit harsh – it is, in my view, still a top five player, albeit one at a crossroads. As shipping has inevitably shifted east with more than one in two ships now Asian, London has found itself to be not quite superfluous to requirements, but in need of rejigging what its maritime offering is. The trick for London will be in making its skills set relevant and easy to reach for Asian markets.
As an aside, let me just say how much I enjoyed last week – what made it special for me was the breadth of events (more than 100 things to attend on a huge range of topics) at sublime historical buildings and with no huge exhibition running alongside, something that often sucks the life out of other maritime events.