Premier Alden McLaughlin traveled to Athens earlier this week to meet with Greek merchant ship owners and shipping industry representatives after his visit to the Monaco Yacht Show.
He accompanied the chairman and the CEO of the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands, Phillip Barnes and Joel Walton, in an effort to support the authority’s plans to increase the number of merchant ships on the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry.
Currently, there are 2,008 yachts registered in Cayman, compared with 203 merchant ships on the registry.
On Tuesday, the premier hosted a luncheon for 15 shipowners and CEOs of Greek shipping companies at the historic Piraeus Marine Club, a hub of the Greek shipping community, where Mr. McLaughlin and Maritime Authority representatives were able to highlight the benefits of the Cayman Shipping Registry.
“MACI asked me to attend and to personally speak to individuals involved in shipping, including those at the luncheon from traditional Greek shipping families who together control many hundred ships,” Mr. McLaughlin said in a press release.
“Some of the individuals I met do business with us now, but most do not. We cannot substantially grow this sector of the shipping market without accessing Greek shipping,” he noted. “So, I came to Athens to thank firsthand those who do business with us, and to say to those who do not that we as a Country and as a Government are committed to the shipping industry, committed to supporting Greek shipping, and we want their business.”
Greek ship owners account for almost 25 percent of the world’s total merchant shipping fleet and are an important market to tap into if the Cayman Islands is to substantially grow the number of merchant vessels on the Cayman Register, the government said in the press release.
Mr. Barnes, chairman of MACI said, “The mere fact that this number of high-powered individuals took time out of their busy day to be with us for several hours over lunch is an indication of their interest in the registry, as well as their interest in hearing firsthand from the leader of the Cayman Islands.”
Mr. Walton, CEO of MACI, said he was grateful to the premier for joining the Maritime Authority in Greece. “This is important to MACI but it is also important to the Cayman Islands. The individuals who met with us are not only significant players in Greek Shipping, but are also significant in terms of the global shipping industry.
“When the Premier of the Cayman Islands can say to them that we are committed to shipping and will work hard to get and keep their business, this means something to them. I am hopeful that we will win a lot more merchant shipping business from Greece and today is the start.”
During the week, MACI staff and representatives in Athens are meeting with individual Greek shipping companies and brokers.
Greek-Caymanian Nicky Pappadakis also attended the lunch and spoke warmly about the Cayman Islands and the Caymanian people when he addressed his compatriots, the government press release noted. Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush also attended as he was in Athens independently visiting his friend Mr. Pappadakis.
Traveling with the premier was Roy Tatum, head of the Office of the Premier. Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Tatum flew back to Cayman Wednesday.