Fund-raising plan tops CHA Marketplace news January 26, 2001 Share 1 -- CANCUN, Mexico -- Reaction was mixed among delegates attending the Caribbean Hotel Association's annual Marketplace event here to the group's plans to raise marketing funds through the sale of guest rooms on an Internet auction site. Several hoteliers were relieved that a plan was "finally getting off the ground," as one general manager put it.Other delegates described the fund-raising plan as "ingenious."CHA unveiled plans for the regional marketing initiative during Marketplace, attended by more than 1,000 buyers and suppliers from 30 countries.Allan Chastanet, chairman of CHA's marketing committee and executive vice president of Air Jamaica, said a pilot program to test the viability of raising funds for advertising will be launched this winter.Hoteliers who wish to participate in the plan can make cash contributions to the marketing fund or opt to place unsold guest rooms on an Internet auction site. The funds generated from the room auction will go toward advertising.Results of the four-month pilot program will be announced at the Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference in Puerto Rico in June.In other news at Marketplace:Visitor arrivals were up 12.6% in the U.S. Virgin Islands last year, according to Monique Sibilly Hodge, acting commissioner of tourism.A new tourism director was expected to be announced by Gov. Charles Turnbull this week.The office has been vacant since Turnbull took office two years ago; several candidates were named but later rejected for various reasons.The Butch Harmon School of Golf opened Jan. 22 at Our Lucaya resort on Grand Bahama Island.Harmon, who instructs Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and other golf greats, operates a similar facility in Las Vegas.The cost of a one-day golf training program at Our Lucaya is $8,000 per person.SuperClubs, which operates 50 inclusive resorts in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Cuba and Brazil under the three brands of Grand Lido, Breezes and Hedonism, breaks ground this year on two more resorts in Cuba, one in St. Kitts and another in Jamaica, according to Joe Issa, president.Hilton Caribbean, with eight properties, begins construction in April on the new 380-room Barbados Hilton.Daniel Hughes, vice president of operations, said Hilton "is looking seriously at acquiring three existing properties in the U.S. Virgin Islands and one in San Juan."Hughes said a new resort in Turks & Caicos also is being studied.Visitor figures to Jamaica increased 5.6% in 2000, according to Portia Simpson Miller, minister of tourism.Jamaica welcomed 2.2 million visitors last year, including more than 900,000 cruise passengers, up 18% over the previous year.