AIANTA Recognizes Best of the Best in Indian Country Tourism

Cherokee Nation, Arizona Indian Festival, Linda Taylor (Cherokee Nation) and Bonnie Sprague (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe) take top honors at AIANTA’s Enough Good People Industry Awards.

American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association logo

AIANTA Board President Emerson L. Vallo & CEO Sherry L. Rupert present the Enough Good People Industry Awards during AIANTA’s first-ever virtual American Indian Tourism Conference.

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (September 17, 2020) —The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) recognized the best tribal destinations and tourism industry leaders at its annual Enough Good People Industry Awards program. The awardees were announced on September 16, 2020, during the 22nd Annual American Indian Tourism Conference—the organization’s first-ever virtual conference. The annual recognition pays tribute to industry leaders in three categories: Tribal Destination of the Year, Best Cultural Heritage Experience and Excellence in Customer Service, as well as celebrating the Industry Professional of the Year.

“We are thrilled to present our Enough Good People Industry Award to four outstanding awardees that represent the best of Indian Country tourism,” said Sherry L. Rupert, CEO of AIANTA. “All of our awardees and nominees personify the amazing work being done to promote cultural heritage tourism in Indian Country and we congratulate them all.

The Tribal Destination of the Year was awarded to Cherokee Nation. Home to six museums, including the new Cherokee National History Museum, which opened last year–Cherokee Nation has been the recipient of numerous top industry awards.

The Arizona Indian Festival earned the Best Cultural Heritage Experience award. The inter-tribal event features traditional dwellings, songs and dances, as well as storytelling, native foods and arts and crafts demonstrations.

Cherokee Nation also earned the top spot in Excellence in Customer Service, which was awarded to Linda Taylor, who has helped manage Cherokee Nation Business’ cultural destinations, including the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop, for nearly three decades.

AIANTA has also been honoring the top tribal tourism champions since 2012 through its Industry Professional of the Year award, which this year was awarded to Bonnie Sprague (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe), the general manager of the Soaring Eagle Waterpark. Sprague has earned a long line of customer service awards during her career, including the Outstanding Citizen of the Year award from Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce earlier this year.

Nominees for AIANTA’s Industry Awards must meet minimum standards for each category while also working to advance AIANTA’s mission to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values.

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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.

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.


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