Director’s Corner: Expressing Gratitude

If you’re like me, you can’t help but notice the increase in television commercials promoting Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The holiday season is nearly upon us.

In the tourism industry, the holiday season also coincides with travel companies releasing predictions on travel “trends” for the coming year.

Tourism Trends for 2020

Among the trends, we’re seeing a lot of predictions that could mean good news for Indian Country.

One survey from found that 60% of global travelers would like to know about destinations “where an increase in tourism would have a positive impact on the local community.” Because of this, the survey says, travel companies are expected to invest in infrastructure improvement that will “entice visitors to take the road less traveled.”

Backing up those stats, global luxury travel network Virtuoso has also found that the “well-traveled luxury set is seeking remote, unspoiled destinations to avoid crowds at over-touristed locales.”

This emphasis on less-traveled destinations is slowly growing into its own tourism category–known as “undertourism”–and major travel companies around the world are taking notice of this newly popular type of tourism.

The emphasis on undertourism fits well with the objectives of Indian County. In short, to drive tourism sustainably to Indian Country destinations, allowing Tribes and tribal enterprises to share authentic experiences in their own voice.

As I mentioned last month, storytelling was an important theme driving this year’s American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Expressing Gratitude

Tourism trends aside, the holiday season is also a time to reflect on what we’ve been grateful for over the past year.

For me, there were nearly too many moments to count, but joining AIANTA as the Executive Director has to be close to the top of the list.

Getting to catch up with long-standing acquaintances and making new friends at AITC is also a highlight.

Of course, I am especially grateful to our gracious friends at the Cherokee Nation for helping us host such a memorable conference.

I am also so thankful to all of our amazing keynote speakers, panelists and breakout session presenters for giving of their time and knowledge to help empower a brighter economic future for all of Indian Country.

I continue to be so inspired by the dedicated, passionate people who are all working toward a common goal–to create economic successes for Indian Country through tourism, while sustainably perpetuating cultural heritage.

Mostly, however, I’d like to show my gratitude to the hardworking people of Indian Country. You are keeping your culture alive, while ensuring it is presented in an authentic voice.

AITC 2020

By the way, we’re already moving full steam ahead on plans for future conferences.

If you weren’t able to make it to Tulsa this year, please mark your calendars for Sept. 14-17, 2020, when we will hold our 22nd Annual American Indian Tourism Conference in Ft. McDowell, Arizona.

We are already seeking speakers for next year’s conference, so if you’re interested, be sure to complete our call for speaker form.

We’re also looking for hosts for future conferences in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

If you’re interested in hosting a future conference or just have a tip or suggestion for what you’d like to see on the agenda, please drop me a line.

Sherry L. Rupert, Executive Director
American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association