SOUTHAMPTON is getting a multi-million pound boost from the return of an international marine event with thousands of visitors.

The opening of Seawork at Mayflower Park was described as the “first really large post-pandemic networking opportunity” for the commercial marine industry.

Organisers have said the boost from international visitors using the city’s hotels, restaurants and shops will run to £7million-£9m.

READ MORE: Marine event will generate millions of pounds for Southampton

At the official opening, Southampton City Council leader Cllr Satvir Kaur said: “There’s no better place than Southampton to celebrate innovation.”

The event is the 23rd Seawork, after two missed years because of the pandemic.

Andrew Webster, managing director of organiser Mercator Media, told visitors: “This will be the first Seawork in over 1,100 days.

“It’s the first post-Brexit and the first really large post-pandemic networking opportunity for us and there’s certainly a lot to talk about and it provides a great opportunity to meet and learn from each other too.”

Sarah Kenny, chair of the industry group Maritime UK, opened the even with Cllr Kaur, saying it was “fantastic to be back here at Seawork after a very long break”.

“It’s important to be here in such a totemic location and to celebrate what we do best,” she said.

She spoke of the importance of decarbonisation, enhancing the UK’s competitiveness and attracting new talent into the industry.

“The UK really is the world’s leading maritime nation and we face fantastic international competition but working together we can achieve much more than any of us can on our own,” she said.

READ MORE: Organisers working to save maritime event after coronavirus postponement

Cllr Kaur told the Daily Echo it was “fantastic” to have the event back.

“Southampton has a rich and proud marine and maritime history which has shaped our city ‘s development today, from having one of the best ports in Europe to being the home of the National Oceanography Centre as well as hosting national and international events like this one,” she said.

“It’s so important that we play our part to keep the sector thriving. Events like this not only bring tens of thousands of people from around the world into our city but it’s great to be at the forefront of such an important sector for the country and it helps grow the local economy as well.”

She welcomed the fact that the three-day event includes a Maritime Skills and Training Day, “which is about giving opportunities and access to young people wanting to enter the maritime and marine sector”.

“We do need to inspire the next generation to keep this important sector going,” she added.

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