American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association to host first tribal tourism information gathering session

Sherry L. Rupert, AIANTA Executive Director, and Emerson Vallo, AIANTA Board President, will facilitate the session which seeks input on successes and barriers in tribal tourism efforts across the U.S.

News Release

American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association

The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) will host its first-ever Tribal Tourism Information Gathering Session during the upcoming American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The session seeks public input from tribes and the tribal tourism industry about successful cultural heritage programs as well as barriers to fully implementing tourism initiatives.

The session, which is open to the general public and not limited to conference attendees, will be held Tuesday, September 17 at 3:45 p.m. at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. 

“We’re excited to implement this information gathering session,” said Sherry L. Rupert, executive director of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. “Cultural heritage tourism is seeing tremendous growth across the United States and the challenges our partners are facing are not the same as they were even five years ago.” 

“The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association has always strived to let tribes tell their stories in their own voices, so we are thrilled to host this open dialogue between the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, tribes and tribal enterprises, which will allow participants to share successes and discuss what more the industry needs to reduce barriers to future growth.” 

The initial information gathering session will serve as a kick-off for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association’s FY2020 programming, which will include the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association fulfilling its responsibilities as a facilitator of the Native American Tourism Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act. 

The Act, in part, calls for a facilitator to “identify areas where technical assistance is needed through consultations with Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations, thereby empowering Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations to participate fully in the tourism industry.” 

Following passage of the NATIVE Act in 2016, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Commerce (Commerce), which authorizes the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association to “coordinate consultations, as appropriate, among the Department of the Interior, Commerce, and Native Participants, in order to identify technical assistance needed to strengthen tourism in Indian Country and to provide feedback to the Department of the Interior and Commerce.” 

For more than 20 years, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association has been working with tribes and tribal organizations to provide training and education on the tourism industry, while also serving as a spokesperson on behalf of the tribal tourism industry. 

The organization’s signature event, the American Indian Tourism Conference, now in its 21st year, is hosted in partnership with a different tribal organization every year. This year’s conference is scheduled for Sept. 16-19, 2019, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, in partnership with Cherokee Nation. 

The conference will bring together dozens of nationally and internationally recognized expert speakers, who will provide insights from the hospitality industry and Indian Country tourism. Speakers include:

  • Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
  • Keith Henry (Métis) , President and CEO, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) 
  • Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw), President, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 
  • Roger Dow, President/CEO, U.S. Travel Association 
  • Nick Mattera, Senior Director, Consumer Marketing, Brand USA 
  • John Herrington (Chickasaw), Astronaut 
  • Ariel Tweto (Inupiat), TV Personality & Producer 
  • Janie Simms Hipp (Chickasaw), CEO, Native American Agriculture Fund

More information about the Tribal Tourism Listening Session can be found at: www.aianta.org/Tribal-Tourism-Info-Gathering-Session.

About the American Indian Tourism Conference

The annual American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC), the only national conference dedicated to travel and tourism in Indian Country, connects tribal leaders and tourism enterprises with tourism and hospitality professionals to help grow tourism in tribal communities throughout the United States. www.aianta.org/aitc

About AIANTA

For more than two decades, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) has served as the national center for providing tourism and recreational travel technical assistance, training and capacity building to American Indian nations. The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit association of Native American tribes and tribal businesses and was incorporated in 2002 to advance Indian Country tourism. The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association’s mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian and Alaska Native tourism that honors traditions and values. www.aianta.org.

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