Leading figures in Greek shipping have expressed anger at the decision to move a major Chinese shipping exhibition to dates that clash with next June's Posidonia, which is set to return after its pandemic cancellation in 2020.
George Pateras, president of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, described the move of Marintec in Shanghai from December to next June at short notice as "not a welcome development" and urged its organisers to think again.
Theo Vokos, managing director of Posidonia Exhibitions, told TradeWinds some participants are "furious" at the move that went against an informal code between major maritime event organisers to avoid unnecessary clashes, which he believes are detrimental to participants.
Last week, Marintec China announced it had cancelled its planned event in Shanghai in December and rescheduled it to June 2022, although it did not specify exact dates.
Posidonia, one of shipping's highest profile biennial events, will take place on 6 to 10 June next year after the 2020 edition was first postponed and then cancelled due to the pandemic.
Booming dry bulk and container markets, along with the rebound from Covid-19 and Posidonia's traditional pre-summer atmosphere, make it an event that is already eagerly anticipated by many.
"The international shipping community that traditionally gathers in Athens for Posidonia every two years, having missed the 2020 event, is awaiting with great anticipation for Posidonia in June 2022," Pateras said in a letter offering support to Vokos.
Marintec organisers blamed the move on Covid-19 travel restrictions on domestic exhibitors and visitors and the "restrictive quarantine measures" for foreign exhibitors and visitors.
It is organised by global events giant Informa and the Shanghai Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers.
While both Posidonia and Marintec are similarly sized with more than 2,000 companies exhibiting at each, Posidonia holds a totemic status due to the scale and influence of the Greek shipowning community and the myriad of side events and parties.
In his letter to Vokos, Pateras offered support to efforts to get Marintec to reconsider the new date.
"From our perspective this is not a welcome development," he wrote. "Anything that detracts from Posidonia and by extension from the interests of the Greek shipping industry, which is projected and promoted through the Posidonia event, will not be helpful.
"I find it surprising that Informa, with its close links with Greece, through its Lloyd's List Shipping Awards and other concerns, would do anything that would undermine the 50-year-old 'institution' of Posidonia".
It is understood that leading figures in Greek shipping have been lobbying Chinese authorities over the matter.
Posidonia is owned by the Vokos family, which also helped set up Marintec. Management of the China event, along with other events and the Seatrade publishing operation, was subsequently sold to Informa.
Vokos fears the clash will damage the value of both events for participants.
Speaking to TradeWinds, Vokos expressed his frustration at the date clash which he said went against the informal 'code of practice' between the major event organisers.
"For the last 18 months during the difficult times of the pandemic, all the major event organisers have worked to fit their events around each other without even exchanging a word," he said.
"That is because it is the right thing to do, because it's the right thing for our clients, the exhibitors and visitors."
Themis Vokos, who ran Posidonia before passing over to Theo, said: "The informal 'code of practice' on dates is not only about the commercial interests of organisers but — more importantly for those serving a particularly international industry like shipping — how best to serve that industry.
"The fragmentation created by the new Marintec dates is not in the best interests of the shipping industry as a whole."
Shipping's other two major biennial events have avoided clashes. Nor-Shipping in Oslo was postponed from last summer and will now take place in January 2022, while SMM was put back a year to next September.
TradeWinds hosts Posidonia's official shipowners' forum during the event at the Athens Metropolitan Expo centre on 7 June.
It remains unclear why Marintec opted for a June date, with some privately suggesting it may be driven by motivation to deliver a revenue generating event in the first half of the year.
Others suggest Marintec may not be concerned about a clash as it will be focused mainly on a domestic Chinese audience due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.
Marintec has been contacted for further comment.