A PLAN has been set out to put the maritime sector at the heart of the Solent region’s economic recovery.

The Maritime UK (MUK) Solent Economic Recovery Plan was launched to coincide with the presence of three new cruise ships in Southampton and Portsmouth.

It seeks to put the maritime sector – which represents 20 per cent of the area’s economic output – at the centre of the region’s future.

Anne-Marie Mountifield, board director for Maritime UK and chief executive of Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Maritime UK Solent is committed to the fast track recovery of the maritime sector through innovation and promotion, pioneering a low carbon return to growth fit for the 21st century.

“These vessels on show in Southampton and Portsmouth are some of the most advanced in the world and their arrival in the Solent serves to showcase our position as the UK’s leading maritime hub, perfectly positioned as a global gateway to lead growth and prosperity.”

Port of Southampton welcomes P&O Cruises' Iona on naming day

GALLERY: P&O Cruises' Iona arrives in Port of Southampton

Southampton recently welcomed P&O’s flagship Iona, the largest cruise ship built for the UK market, and MSC Cruises’ new Virtuosa, the first UK cruise ship to set sail from a British port in more than a year. Viking’s newest ship Viking Venus sailed into Portsmouth.

Solent LEP launches Economic Recovery Plan

Ms Mountifield said: “We are proud to be publishing the Maritime UK Solent Economic Recovery Plan at this time when, rightly, these significant milestones in the restart of the cruise industry have been the focus of national attention. This is a new beginning for the Solent maritime sector, and we have ambition and determination to build back better and greener than ever before.”

The plan sets out four priorities:

n Supporting an “international gateway” – including delivering the Solent freeport plan, positioning the cruise industry for growth and recalibrating for a new trading relationship with the European Union

n Innovation – including creating a marine innovation hub and a Solent Maritime Enterprise Zone for research, skills and training

n Decarbonisation – including promoting shore power technology, creating a “greenprint” for decarbonisation and establishing a world-leading centre for the “greening” of maritime

n Skills – including working with Hampshire Chamber to place employers at the heart of a new skills system and establishing an Institute of Technology.

Ben Murray, chief executive of Maritime UK said: “The route to recovery for the Solent’s maritime sector is based on championing the region as a globally significant maritime cluster - supporting the sector in charting a new course that can provide added resilience and adaptability, expand opportunities for global trade, and foster innovation and creativity.

“As a global gateway, enhanced by the designation of Freeport status, the Solent has an important role to play in underpinning trade resilience and enabling businesses to respond to, and take advantage of, new trading relationships.”

The plan is at solentlep.org.uk