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The corona crisis has made shipping visible

03 April 2020

Layoffs, closed lines, demands on economic help to keep traffic alive. The negative consequences of the corona crisis have suddenly made shipping more exposed in the daily press. Can something good come out of this?

Over 200 articles in March compared to just under 50 in February. This was the result when we at Lighthouse used our tool for media surveillance and counted the two last month's articles in Swedish newspapers that concern shipping. Of course, this is not a scientific study (the procedure took about an hour), but still - an increase of 300 percent still says something. Above all, the daily press's surveillance of shipping increased after the crisis intensified during the second half of March.

Could this have any significance for shipping which, in many people's eyes, are not visible enough? Can the increased exposure, in the midst a chaotic situation, create a window of opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of shipping to the public?

“Yes, the importance of shipping becomes very clear now and hopefully you understand that it is also important in the future when we do not have a pandemic. Therefore, shipping must be given opportunities to become that sustainable business that fits into a future society”, Åsa Burman, Lighthouse’s director, says.

Rikard Engström, CEO of Swedish shipowner’s association and a member of the Lighthouse board, also believes that the increased exposure can be an eye opener for the public.

“So far it’s most about the passenger traffic. But not being able to take the ferry to the holiday destination or dance on an evening cruise is not the most important thing. It’s about how we should supply Sweden” he says.

People may start to think that shipping is quite important, but in the future, the eye opener may be even bigger.

“The risk is that tankers will not get new staff when the current crew, which is often from the Philippines, is going off their shift in a few weeks. Then perhaps large parts of the fleet must lay still, which means that it is time for a lot of swedes to fill up the car. And should ferry traffic stop their transport of goods it will of course also be very dramatic.”

Rikard Engström also thinks that politics in Sweden has not really understood the seriousness of the situation¬ – a lot more should be done.

“When we in Sweden eventually analyze what worked and not during the crisis, I think we will come to the conclusion that the transport sector is largely something that must be safeguarded, and not just during the crisis, says Rikard Engström, who is convinced that there will also be an increased focus on shipping in the future.”

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