Southampton is to get a £12m windfall with the opening of Europe’s biggest commercial marine industry exhibition tomorrow.

An expected 7,000 international delegates will be in the city over the next three days to attend the 14th annual Seawork event.

This year the show is highlighting the multimillion pound business potential of off-shore wind farms, such as the one planned for the waters off the Isle of Wight.

Organisers of the event, staged in the city’s Western Docks, estimate £6m will flow through Southampton’s business tills, a figure, which doubles, taking into account staff manning the 450 stands who, in addition to accommodation, will be using a wide range of local services.

Andrew Webster, who heads Fareham-based, Mercator Media Limited, which organises the exhibition, said: “The impact on the local economy around the Seawork event is huge. Hotels, restaurants, taxis and retail all benefit greatly and most of the businesses in the city buy into the event and try to get involved.”

Together with extensive exhibition halls, and a purpose built marina with berths for more than 60 different craft, the event will again feature a full conference programme.

Presentations by leading experts will cover topics such as legislation, environmental concerns and operational requirements from within the UK marine industry, which contributes at least £3.7bn annually to the British economy.

About 70 companies from the south will be among the exhibitors setting out their stalls in a bid to boost their order books.

“A recent report by the Marine Industries Leadership Council identifies off-shore renewables as a sector offering unprecedented growth,”

said Mr Webster.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for companies to take advantage of Britain’s pioneering innovations in this sector.”

The thousands of commercial marine professionals attending the show are set to take advantage of viewing, discussing, and trying the newest of developments across the industry. Among these are anti-piracy strategies, safety products, communications and electronics technologies, together with fast response vessels.

The fleet at the marina will highlight the wide spectrum of craft from wind farm service craft to charter fishing.