Former Thomas Cook chief executive and VisitBritain chairman Christopher Rodrigues is to oversee the UK shipping regulator.

He has been named by the government as non-executive chair of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Rodrigues has chaired the Port of London for five years.

The Department for Transport said: “His leadership will contribute to the MCA’s ongoing plans to transform the agency as it works on innovation and regulation, while seeking to grow the UK Flag and helping boost the maritime economy.”

This appointment is part of a wider commitment to generate growth in the maritime sector, encourage greater investment in the UK and promote the UK flag as a world-class register that attracts quality ship owners, according to the DfT.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “I’d like to welcome and congratulate Christopher, who joins the Maritime and Coastguard agency at an exciting time for the agency and a hugely important moment for the UK as we look to our recovery from Covid-19.

“I am very grateful to Michael Parker, the first MCA chair for the work he has done in establishing its remit, but also for the direction he has given to the organisation over the past four years.”

This announcement coincides with the start of the countdown to London International Shipping Week on September 13-17 which will bring together global leaders from the maritime industry.

Rodrigues said: “I am delighted to be taking up the role and look forward to supporting the MCA team as they adapt to the changing needs and commercial requirements of international shipping and maintain the great traditions of HM Coastguard.

“The UK is a world-leading maritime nation. Ensuring that the MCA provides an effective and responsive service is central to retaining this position.

MCA chief executive Brian Johnson said: “Christopher will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and we all look forward to working with him.”

The maritime sector contributed at least £17 billion to the UK economy in 2017 and supports at least 220,100 jobs across the country.