Cayman struts stuff in Panama

PANAMA CITY, Panama – With regular flight service between Grand Cayman and Panama City commencing in a little more than two months, Cayman Airways and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism are giving thousands of people attending the Expocomer trade show in Panama a preview of what the Cayman Islands 
has to offer. 

The four-day Expocomer features some 600 booths from 30 different countries and is one of the largest annual trade shows in Latin America. The event started on Wednesday and runs 
through Saturday. 

The Expocomer was also attended by many Cayman Islands residents who are part of the Chamber of Commerce’s fourth trade mission to Panama. Department of Tourism Marketing Manager Rosa Harris said the goal of being at the Expocomer was to promote the Cayman Islands as a destination and to increase brand awareness. 

“Panama is considered a gateway to South America,” she said. “It’s a hub to other areas in Latin America.” 

Mrs. Harris said that although North America will remain Cayman’s main target market, the Department of Tourism was trying to get some diversification with regard to where visitors are coming from. 

“There are cities in South America that align with our target audience,” she said, giving Sao Paulo, Brazil as one example. 

Mrs. Harris said the Cayman Islands booths were well received in the trade show, which is heavily geared toward manufacturers.  

“I think people are intrigued to see a destination as opposed to an industry,” she said. 

To help the Department of Tourism representatives communicate with the many Spanish-speaking attendees of the Expocomer, events marketing representative Annick Jackman – who speaks fluent Spanish – was also at the Cayman booth.  

In addition to Cayman Airways and Department of Tourism representatives there to answer questions, Cayman’s two colourful booths featured a soundless video presentation of the Islands, several tourism and financial services industry magazines and some promotional giveaways like Cayman Airways luggage tags, Sir Turtle key rings, pens and memory sticks with preloaded information about the Cayman Islands. 


Flight details 

The direct flight service between Grand Cayman and Panama City will commence 31 May and run through 3 November to correspond with the South American winter season. The two-hour flights will run twice weekly – on Mondays and Thursdays – with departure times of 11am from Cayman and 2pm from Panama City, said Olivia Scott Ramirez, Cayman Airway’s marketing and corporate communications manager. 

Panama’s national airline, Copa, offers direct flights to many of the major Latin American countries and Cayman Airways has established an alliance with that airline to enhance its marketing efforts and to facilitate flight connectivity. 

“Our flight times are set to take advantage of the many connecting flights to Central and South America,” she said. 

Round trip airfares prices will start at US$299 plus taxes in economy and US$598 in business class. Mrs. Scott Ramirez said the taxes come to an addition US$92.15. 

“Tickets actually went on sale on Monday,” she said. 

For the time being, Cayman Airways is taking a wait-and-see approach, only committing to run the route through November. It will determine future scheduling after assessing the route’s performance. 

“That’s pretty much how we approach all of our gateways,” Mrs. Scott Ramirez said. 


Transshipment facility still possible 

Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush, Cabinet Minister Mike Adam, MLAs Ellio Solomon and Dwayne Seymour and several other government officials paid a visit to Cayman’s booths at the Expocomer on Wednesday. 

Mr. Bush said it was his second trip to Panama and that he had come previously to meet with representatives of Copa when establishing the strategic alliance with Cayman Airways.  

Since he arrived in Pamana, Mr. Bush has maintained a busy schedule, starting with the Cayman Night in Panama welcome reception on Monday night.  

On Tuesday, Mr. Bush took the trip to Pamana’s Caribbean port city Colon, where he toured the Colon Free Trade Zone and the nearby cruise port facility. 

Mr. Bush said he still thought having a transshipment area free zone and a cruise ship home port similar to Colon would be a good thing for the Cayman Islands. 

“That’s what I envisioned back in 2003,” he said. “That’s what the [now abandoned East End Seaport idea] was supposed to be.” 

Mr. Bush said with the widening of the Panama Canal, bigger ships from the Far East will be coming into the Caribbean, but they won’t be going to Miami. He said Cayman would be a perfect place for them to off-load their containers for redistribution to small ships heading to a variety of port destinations. 

“Cayman would have another huge industry and it would diversify the economy,” he said. “There would be tremendous revenues; tremendous possibilities for trade; tremendous opportunities for employment; and just tremendous benefits for Cayman.” 

Mr. Bush also spoke about the missed opportunity to create a cruise ship home port in Cayman. He noted that the home port in Colon is attracting visitors to Panama from all over the Latin American region because many people cannot get a visa to depart on a cruise ship from the United States. 

“There are tremendous amounts of wealthy people [in Central and South America] who can’t get into the US,” he said, adding these people could be departing on Caribbean cruises from Cayman if there were a home port there. Although the East End Seaport idea – which included a transshipment facility as well as a cruise ship home port – was eventually abandoned because of public objections, Mr. Bush said he hadn’t personally abandoned the idea. 

“While it’s on the back burner, it’s not off my agenda,” he said, adding a suitable place for such a port facility would have 
to be found. 

Cayman struts 1

Cayman Islands Department of Tourism marketing representative Annick Jackman speaks with an attendee of the Expocomer Trade Show on Wednesday in Panama City, Panama. – Photo: Alan Markoff

Cayman struts 5

Some of the members of the Cayman Islands trade mission delegation that visited the Department of Tourism and Cayman Airways booths at the Expocomer trade show in Panama City on Wednesday were, from left, Cabinet Minister Mike Adam; Chief Officer Stran Bodden; George Town MLA Ellio Solomon; Bodden Town MLA Dwayne Seymour; Premier McKeeva Bush; and Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce President David Kirkaldy. – Photo: Alan Markoff


  1. Cayman doesnt need to be wooing people from Central America. It’s a very poor region and people there simply want to come to Cayman for work. We need to woo more stable and economically sound countries. And by the way Mr. premier, there is a reason why many of the Latin Americans cannot get a visa to enter the US to get on a cruise ship. Because they tend to stay. Every country has its reasons for its immigration issues just as we have our rollover policy.

  2. Not sure what the draw to the Cayman’s from Panama would be. They already live in the tropics and have plenty of islands to vacation at plus property at a much lower price so what is the big draw to the Caymans?
    Being a hub for South America Latin America it could also bring the Cartel looking for a place to park some money.
    Just a thought!

  3. Cayman doesnt need to be wooing people from Central America. It’s a very poor region… This is a senseless comment. There are a lot of Latin Americans that are wealthy, and much better off than most Caymanians. Have you ever been to all the Latin American countries for you to make such a comment. Don’t fool yourself! There are a lot of latin Americans who can afford to travel but as stated cannot get a visa (there are also Caymanians who cannot get a vis) So for you to sound like Caymanians are better than everyone else makes you look like someone who has not done much traveling yourself. And yes I am a Caymanian! I have traveled to 8 different Central American and South American countries ranging from Mexico to Argentina! And trust me when I say that there are some weatlthy people that can afford to travel. I have friends in Argentina which travels a lot and although they would like to return to Cayman for another visit the cost for one persom from Argentina to Cayman is in the range of 1800 per person cost of visas (because they have to currently go through the US). So they would rather vacation in the South East Caribbean islands as it is much cheaper to get to countries like Trinidad and Barbados because they can travel through Venezuela with only 1 layover. I think Cayman Airways and Govt is making a wise choice of having direct flights to Panama! I bet there is a lot of Caymanians that would want to go there for the shopping, there are also a lot of Dominicans, Costa Ricans, Colombians, and Nicaraguans that will fill these flights when they are ready to go home for a vacation. This will allow them to have 1 layover rather than travel for 2 days to get to a country which is right next door (They currently have to fly though Jamaica/Cuba to Panama to Costa Rica/Colombia/Nicaragua, which can take up to 2 days of flying because of the connections.)

    But your comment would be like me saying ALL Africans live in little villages…and all their houses are wooden shacks with mud walls and leaves for their roofs! How stupid would I sound? And yes I have also been to Africa!!!!

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