After a two year pause, this event recently took place live in London, with Peter Drummond of Good Travel Management (GTM) joining the event. This important get-together reaffirms London’s position as a maritime hub at the heart of the global maritime industry. London provides international leadership in marine support services, in marine finance, training and expertise generally, whilst most of the world’s major ship-owners are represented in the city. The maritime industry contributes £55.4 billion to the UK economy – 95% of all UK trade is transported by sea.
All sectors of the industry were represented at the conference and the various seminars, the owners, seafarers and government in various forms. The main themes covered were the crew change crisis, something that GTM and their clients have experienced to the full over the last 18 months, and – more persistently all through the week - ‘ESG’ – ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’ factors to ‘evaluate sustainability and confront the energy transition’ - essentially to meet the extreme challenge faced by the industry over its Carbon emissions. These are now increasingly in the media spotlight with the industry being portrayed as a major polluter. However, without a single industry voice to answer these challenges, many of the owners being private companies in competition with each other, it can lead to a negative perception. It is a stark comparison to the BTA (Business Travel Association) which represents the business travel sector in the UK. Shipping is a very conservative industry that doesn’t seek out publicity, an example given was the shyness of the owners of the container ship which recently blocked the Suez canal. When thousands of ships are keeping the world economy going, pursuing their business constantly without mishap, this extremely rare event attracted largely unchallenged negative publicity.
It was noted that Carbon reduction conversions in the industry seem to be slow and that in the last year only 22% of new vessels launched were ‘future proofed’ for Carbon reduction. There is divergence amongst government policymakers creating variations in the regulations between the EU, UK, US, China and others – there are no uniform regulations on Carbon change. As we look towards the upcoming COP 26 summit in Glasgow, the impact of our sectors, both travel and shipping, will be high on the agenda and it’s something we are working hard on with our clients as businesses will need to meet stringent targets in the forthcoming years.
Central to GTM’s own customer’s challenges is the crew change crisis. Some 1.7 million seafarers are currently stranded aboard ships around the world but this has received only marginal publicity in the media and minimal engagement from governments. Specialist marine travel management companies have borne the brunt of this disruption alongside the ships owners and agencies and this is where we come into our own, supporting businesses throughout the supply chain to overcome the constant challenges of moving crew and other essential workers.