Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards Nominations

The Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards, presented by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), is a prestigious recognition that celebrates and honors outstanding contributions to the Indigenous travel and tourism sector. This annual event acknowledges excellence in various categories, showcasing those who have made significant strides in redefining the landscape of Indigenous tourism.

Anyone in the tourism/hospitality industry may make a nomination for the Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards, but the nominee must be an AIANTA member in good standing to be considered for an award. If the nominee is a non-member, the nominating organization may sponsor the membership of the nominee.

Deadline to Submit: May 31, 2024 by 5:00 p.m. MT

Reasons to Submit a Nomination:

Spotlight on Excellence:

The Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards provides a platform to shine a spotlight on individuals and destinations that have excelled in their dedication to Indigenous tourism. It is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate excellence within the industry.

Acknowledgment of Dedication:

Submitting a nomination is a chance to acknowledge and honor the hard work and dedication of those who have contributed significantly to the advancement of Indigenous travel and tourism.

Foster Lasting Connections:

The winners of these awards are not just industry leaders; they are champions of hospitality who create unforgettable moments for travelers and foster lasting connections. Recognizing their efforts contributes to building a stronger and more vibrant Indigenous tourism community.

Commitment to Recognition:

Your nomination is more than just a submission; it is a testament to your commitment to recognizing and honoring the best in the field. It reinforces the importance of acknowledging excellence and supporting those who make a positive impact on Indigenous tourism.

Inclusivity of Nominators:

AIANTA Members in good standing and non-members alike are encouraged to submit nominations. Non-members who are nominated can have their membership sponsored by the nominator, promoting inclusivity within the awards process.

Elevating Authentic Stories:

The prestigious awards aim to highlight individuals who have left an indelible mark on tribal Indigenous tourism, becoming ambassadors who share authentic stories and histories. By submitting a nomination, you contribute to elevating and promoting these genuine narratives.

Visit the official nomination portal to share the inspiring stories of destinations and individuals that epitomize the very best of Indigenous travel and tourism. Participate in honoring those who have made a significant impact and continue to shape the future of this vital industry.

Excellence in Tourism Categories

Indigenous Destination of the Year:

Nominate a destination that embodies the essence of Indigenous culture, offering a rich and authentic experience for travelers. This award recognizes the commitment to preserving and promoting cultural heritage through tourism. Nominees must be destinations; (including cultural/interpretive centers, museums or historical villages.)

  • They must demonstrate a measurable economic impact (i.e. attendance numbers) on the local, regional or state level; data should be included in the application to highlight successful marketing results.
  • Nominees must encompass the following: excellent customer service, visitor-friendly destination, authentic cultural heritage experience(s), amenities for visitors, recreation/activities and active marketing efforts and collaboration.
  • Must demonstrate cultural heritage programming throughout the visitor season, through lectures, exhibitions, performances, etc.
  • Must have interpretive exhibits or signage that educate visitors about the tribe and its cultural heritage.
  • Must enhance the visitor experience to the area and/or be incorporated as part of local tourism marketing program, promotion or itinerary.
  • Must demonstrate commitment to authenticity, preservation and sustaining the cultural heritage of the tribe or tribes, including a statement in its mission statement, strategic plan or similar.
Submit Nomination
Best Cultural Heritage Experience:

Highlight and celebrate initiatives or experiences that contribute to the preservation and sharing of Indigenous cultural heritage. This award honors those who have created immersive and meaningful experiences for visitors.

Nominee must provide a cultural heritage experience; they can be an annual festival or event (one-time events are excluded).

  • Must demonstrate authentic arts, crafts, food, dance, performance, demonstrations, that are representative of tribe or tribes; application forms and other contracts must require tribal arts & crafts standards, etc.
  • Must enhance the visitor experience to the area and/or be incorporated as part of local tourism marketing program, promotion or itinerary.
  • Must demonstrate feedback/reviews from the public for the event, i.e. surveys, online ratings, etc.

OR, nominees can be an individual or group performance or demonstration.

  • Must be an enrolled tribal member of a federally or state recognized tribe, Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian with proof of identification.
  • Must demonstrate an authentic performance, dance, art, traditional storytelling, song or interpretation.
  • Must be recognized by peers, arts organizations or booking entities as a professional, i.e. resume, biography and/or awards received.
Submit Nomination
Excellence in Customer Service:

Recognize individuals or organizations that consistently go above and beyond in delivering impeccable customer service within the Indigenous tourism sector. This category celebrates those who make visitors’ journeys memorable through exceptional hospitality.

Nominees can be a business or organization with a commitment to creating and providing a culture of service.

  • Must demonstrate customer service throughout its business practices, i.e. customer service statement and policy. Must provide customer service training on a continuous basis.
  • Must recognize employees for excellent customer service, i.e. bonus, award, etc.
  • Must demonstrate a strong, charitable commitment to the community in which it operate through collaborative efforts, i.e. letters or memoranda of understanding.

OR, nominee can be an individual or tribal member who has provided consistent, excellent customer service during their tenure of employment.

  • Must be recognized by their customer in going “above and beyond” their duties to assist them. (Such as reviews on Trip Advisor, Travelocity, Yelp, etc.) Must have been recognized by their employer for their service, i.e. Employee of the Month.
Submit Nomination
Industry Professional Award:

Acknowledge and applaud an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and expertise in advancing the mission of AIANTA. This award recognizes professionals who have played a pivotal role in shaping the future of Indigenous tourism.

Nominee may be an active professional or volunteer devoted to sustainable tribal tourism development.

  • Nominee may be any partner or volunteer that demonstrated continual assistance to AIANTA and/or individual tribes to accomplish tourism projects that benefit Indian Country.
  • Nominee must demonstrate that he/she has made a significant impact in tribal tourism and helped AIANTA achieve its mission. In addition, the nominee must have contributed new ideas and networks to help accomplish AIANTA’s goals.
  • Nominee may be a Tribal Leader, Public Sector, or Private Sector Advocate; an Industry Partner, Native Arts Ambassador, Tribal Tourism Professional, or a friend.

Submit Nomination

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Native American Agriculture Fund

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Bureau of Land Management

National Endowment of the Arts

National Park Service

United States Forest Service