AIANTA CEO Appointed to National Marine Sanctuary System Business Advisory Council

The advisory panel will work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to promote sustainable recreation and tourism within the National Marine Sanctuary System.


ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (January 12, 2021) – Sherry L. Rupert, CEO of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), has been appointed to serve a three-year term on Office of National Marine Sanctuary System (ONMS) Business Advisory Council.

“I’m thrilled to be a member of this esteemed council,” said Rupert. “So many of our nation’s coastal regions and marine parks have deep ties to Native American and Native Hawaiian culture and heritage, and I look forward to working with NOAA to help elevate the voices of the native peoples connected to those coastal regions.”

Ocean tourism and recreation plays a key, but under-recognized, role in the nation’s tourism industry, contributing approximately $116 billion in gross domestic product to the national economy each year.

“We are delighted to welcome Sherry L. Rupert to this group of thought leaders serving on our council,” said John Armor, director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “The cultural, historical, and spiritual relationships that America’s indigenous groups have with the nation’s coastal lands and ocean plays an integral role in defining the cultural identity and well-being of these regions.”

The council, an initiative by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, will connect the federal agency with leaders from national hospitality and recreation organizations to elevate and promote responsible tourism to the nation’s underwater parks. In total, 15 tourism and recreation experts will provide specialized advice to the ONMS director on the challenges and opportunities facing America’s marine parks.

Other council members include:

  • Taldi Harrison, Government and Community Affairs Manager, REI
  • Jessica (Wahl) Turner, Executive Director, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable
  • Marie Fukudome, Senior Manager, Environmental Affairs, Hyatt Hotels
  • Joost Ouendag, Vice President of Product Marketing, Viking River Cruises
  • Taishya ​Adams​​, Policy Director, Outdoor Afro
  • Maite Arce, President and CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation
  • Dave Bulthuis, President, Pure Fishing
  • Greg Jacoski, Executive Director, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation
  • Elissa Foster, Senior Manager of Product Responsibility, Patagonia, Inc.
  • Martin Peters, Yamaha Marine Division Manager, Government Relations

The council’s first public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 14, 2021.

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For nearly 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. AIANTA 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. AIANTA’s mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values.

About NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 14 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

For more information and images, contact:

Monica Poling
Marketing & PR Manager

Vernon Smith
National Media Coordinator
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries