Business and government leaders travelled on a Cayman Airways charter flight to Panama on Monday 19 March, 2012 to further develop relationships and to strengthen trade links that have already generated an estimated US$20 million in trade since the first mission was organised by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce in 2006.
Approximately 50 local delegates participated in the 4-day mission headed up by the Hon. Premier McKeeva Bush OBE, JP, Hon. Minister Michael Adam and President of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce Mr. David Kirkaldy. Sponsors of the Trade Mission include The Office of the Premier, Eaglemount Ltd., Cayman Airways, Tortuga Rum Company, LIME, Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa and the Marriott Resort Grand Cayman. Business leaders from banking, security, company management, retail, construction, services and other industries represented our islands at several networking events such as the Cayman Night Welcome Reception and the Grand Opening of the Expocomer.
Members of the local media also attended from the Caymanian Compass, Cayman News 27, and Radio Cayman.
The Welcome Reception which was held on the first night took place at the Miramar Intercontinental Hotel in Panama City, with many of Panama’s leading officials, business leaders and professionals in attendance. Hon. Premier W. McKeeva Bush OBE, JP and Chamber President Mr. David Kirkaldy used this opportunity to urge the Panamanian delegates to consider Cayman for their business and travel needs.
“I am convinced that there are many areas that we can work together to improve business such as tourism, investment, and development sectors,” said Mr. Kirkaldy. “Both Panama and the Cayman Islands are exceptional tourism destinations and there are lessons to share to improve our product offerings and ultimately our market share of the tourism industry.”
Delegates also had the opportunity to visit the Colon Free Trade Zone, the Gamboa Rainforest, the Panama Canal, tour Panama City, as well as spend two days at the Expocomer tradeshow event where Cayman Airways and the Department of Tourism each had a booth.
Government and Chamber officials also toured the Centro Medico Paitilla hospital in Panama City. Roberto A. Moreno de Leon, Administrative Director and Jaime E. Espinosa, Medical Director shared information and responded to questions about the range of hospital services that are available including a state-of-the-art oncology facility that is rated as one of the most advanced in the region, as well as their trauma and neo-natal care units.
The hospital provides concierge service for overseas patients and their families. Annually, the Cayman Islands spends millions of dollars in overseas care and emergency referrals mainly in the United States and the visit to the Centro Medico Paitilla was intended to provide local officials with a chance to tour a leading medical facility in Panama and to ask questions about costs and the quality of service that is being offered. In some cases, this is between 50 to 100% less expensive than treatments provided by facilities in the United States.
Although the delegation had a number of organised events and excursions, they also allocated time to organise a number of their own meetings and explore opportunities relating to their individual business needs.