Aruba will host the 27th annual Caribbean Hotel Association Marketplace event Jan. 14 to 16, accounting for 900 hotel rooms. This marks the second time the event will be held in Aruba, following its first appearance in 1992.

The venue for the actual trade show, vendor booths, and meetings rooms will be a 40,000-square-foot tent, similar but larger to the tent that was used at Caribbean Marketplace in Jamaica in 2005.

In other Aruba news:

" The Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association (AHATA) launched Meet Aruba as its new group marketing division, targeted at the meetings and incentive markets.

Meet Aruba represents a bold step for our association, said Jorge Pesquera, president and ceo. This move represents our vision and commitment to deliver the best marketing services and be recognized as the best group marketing entity in the Caribbean.

The Meet Aruba team includes Scott Wiggins, executive director, who also will maintain his responsibilities as AHATAs senior director of sales and marketing; Charly Ibarra, director of business development; Donna Del Gallo, sales representative covering corporate markets in the north and east; and Mayline Menendez, sales rep for corporate markets in the south.

The Meet Aruba (www.meetaruba.com) division has partnered with the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions to combine sales strategies and sales leads in the U.S. and Canada, according to Conrad van Tiggelen, director, North America, NBTC.

" JetBlue will be the first low-cost carrier to serve Aruba from the U.S., Transportation Dept. and foreign government approval. JetBlue is planning to begin service from New York (Kennedy) Sept. 15 on A320 aircraft. The airline filed its application for DOT approval May 25.

" Tiara Air has begun scheduled flights from Aruba to Bonaire and Curacao, using a 33-seat Shorts 3-60 aircraft, and plans to add a second aircraft in the near future. The carriers slogan is One Happy Aruban Airline. For details, visit www.tiara-air.com.

" Westin will enter the Aruba hotel market by the end of the year, following a $90 million upgrade to the former 481-room Wyndham Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino, recently purchased by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

" The Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) launched a video testimonial campaign on its Web site at www.aruba.com to illustrate visitors positive reactions to the destination. The testimonials were filmed in January.

Visitors were selected at random by ATA representatives who explained they were requesting guest feedback for use on the Web site. There are 22 testimonials on line, and more are planned, officials said.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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