UNITED STATES (US) maritime business students visited Nelson Mandela Bay recently as part of a South African tour to explore the cultural complexity of the global maritime industry.Hosted by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), which is headquartered in the Bay, the 19 top-performing students from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy enjoyed a welcome lecture at Nelson Mandela University by local marine tourism expert Peter Myles and a tour of the deepwater Port of Ngqura.Also on their itinerary was a visit to Siyaloba Training Academy to experience the role of a social enterprise in skills training for the maritime sector, teaching sea survival skills to local fishermen. In addition, the group got a first-hand view of the Eastern Cape’s key fishing industry. The academy’s South African-born international maritime business lecturer, Dr Portia Ndlovu, said part of the reason for the students’ visit to South Africa was the need to be part of the “global respect train”.While the sector and its education and training facilities were adapting to rapid technological advances spawned by the fourth industrial revolution, Ndlovu said students also needed to acquire the interpersonal communication skills required to work in the global shipping industry. “As such, students at the academy are not only exposed to experiential training, but also to the different cultures they are likely to encounter on their career paths,” Ndlovu said.SAIMI spokesperson Samantha Venter said effective cultural exchange was crucial in facilitating the transfer of global best practices and in finding solutions that work for each environment and customer.“SAIMI plays a much-needed linking role between industry and role players in maritime research, education and training, and we also help to facilitate international and continental cooperation.Venter said the focus of the tour for both parties was to learn from each other and to explore the possibility of further exchanges of expertise in the future.One of the Massachusetts-based academy’s senior students and tour leaders, Nick Zaia, said the maritime sector opened up a world of opportunities but that it required discipline and a sense of responsibility to succeed.“Our training also incorporates a military aspect,” he said.“While not everyone will pursue a shipping career in the military, it is still vital that everyone in the industry has a strong sense of leadership and discipline.“Eventually, whichever line you follow, lives will be in your hands. “It is up to us to accept that massive responsibility at an early age,” Zaia said.