Indian Country Tourism Anticipates Tourism Increase for 2021

Nearly 70% of respondents believe tourism to Indian Country will increase somewhat or greatly in the coming year, according to AIANTA’s State of Indian Country Tourism survey.


ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (May 3, 2021) –Indian Country tourism enterprises are upbeat about their tourism prospects for 2021, according to the State of Indian Country Tourism, an annual survey released by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA).

The survey, which queried AIANTA’s database of Native- and tribally owned hospitality businesses, found that nearly 70% of respondents believe tourism will increase greatly (20%) or somewhat (48%) in the coming year.

We are excited to see so many Native American tourism enterprises feeling upbeat for the remainder of the year,” said Sherry L. Rupert, AIANTA CEO. “We believe the optimism aligns with general tourism industry sentiment that anticipates American visitors will pass on international travel this year, in favor of domestic road trips.”

The survey further backs up this data as 48% of respondents anticipate a growth in regional tourism versus the outlook for domestic and international travel—with just 24% of respondents expecting an increase in domestic tourism and only 17% of respondents expecting an increase in international visitations.

Despite the optimism for the return of travelers, respondents overwhelmingly (65%) indicated they did not anticipate an increase in tourism employment this year. Additionally, respondents were cautious in their outlook with respect to tourism marketing budgets, with just 20 percent expecting an increase in tourism marketing monies. Nearly one third of respondents indicated they expected a decline in tourism marketing budgets.

“Obviously, a lack of growth in tourism employment could impact local economic development,” said Rupert. “However, AIANTA is working closely with tribes and indigenous-owned hospitality businesses to ensure they have the tools they need to best manage their cultural heritage tourism programming.”

AIANTA offers numerous training programs, including its American Indian Tourism Conference, scheduled for October 25-28, 2021, in Fort McDowell (Scottsdale), Arizona. The conference attracts leading hospitality industry speakers and more than 300 tribal tourism representatives from around the country every year.

To see the full set of results, download the State of Indian Country Tourism Survey now.

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The State of Indian Country Tourism Survey was conducted using a list of tribal hospitality enterprises, a subset of AIANTA’s proprietary tourism database. The survey includes responses from anonymous industry leaders and business owners, who were asked to describe their sentiment on the tourism industry for the coming year through a series of open- and close-ended questions.

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..

For more information, contact:

Monica Poling
PR & Media Manager, AIANTA