AIANTA & SMS Research Cement Agreement to Conduct Comprehensive Tourism Planning Study

Honolulu-based SMS Research will conduct a comprehensive tourism study in partnership with AIANTA, with results to be reported to the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (March 7, 2022) – Albuquerque-based American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) and Honolulu-based SMS Research are partnering to conduct a comprehensive assessment with respect to the Native tourism industry. Report methodology will include data collection as well as consultation with tourism, hospitality, cultural and community stakeholders.

The final report, which will identify the most-needed areas for technical assistance and training with respect to building and growing a robust cultural tourism industry for Native communities, will be used as a planning document as AIANTA rolls out its future educational programming. Study results will first be revealed at the 24th Annual American Indian Tourism Conference, Oct. 24-27, 2022, in San Diego County, and will also be presented to the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“We are thrilled to sign this agreement with SMS Research, an industry leader in hospitality data and trends collection,” said Sherry L. Rupert, AIANTA CEO. “The Honolulu-based SMS has a long history of working with the Hawaii Tourism Authority and is particularly sensitive to the issues that directly affect the nation’s Native communities.”

AIANTA previously partnered with SMS in 2021, when the research agency conducted the Economic Impact of Indian Country Tourism, the first-ever report to detail the economic impact of Native tourism. The study, which collected U.S. Census data, revealed that Native tourism and hospitality businesses in the United States generate more than $14 billion dollars in annual receipts.

“This project will provide the data needed to guide recovery efforts and to help develop a stronger visitor industry in the United States that is more responsive to Native communities and to the sustainability of their destinations,” said Tim Cook, CEO of SMS Research.

The study is being conducted as one component of a Memorandum of Understanding entered into between the United States Department of the Interior, (DOI), the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) in 2018, in which AIANTA was designated as a facilitator of the NATIVE Act. This study is being funded with NATIVE Act funds.

– 30 –

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 SMS
Established in 1960, SMS is a major contributor to marketing research, consulting, social and economic studies, program evaluation, and government-level policy studies for local, national, Pacific Basin and international clients. As a full-service research and marketing company, SMS designs and executes research that provides clients with actionable information. The firm’s extensive experience in visitor industry research helps inform the data collection and analysis needs of Hawaii’s visitor industry.

For more information and images, contact:

Monica Poling
Marketing & PR Manager, AIANTA

Daniel Nāhoʻopiʻi
Executive Vice President
SMS Research