O me’a”kwa: Tamano mah ni

(I’m going to travel over there, Northern Paiute)

Harrah's Resort Southern California

Yellowstone National Park //
(c) 2020 Sherry L. Rupert

Dear AIANTA members, friends and partners–

Tamano mah ni. (It’s springtime now, Northern Paiute) Spring is a time of growth and renewal. It is the season for cherry blossoms, maple syrup, Easter eggs, and yes, finally, a return to Spring Break travel. All signs are pointing towards a robust travel season this spring, with more than half of travelers planning travel during the season and one in three travelers planning a trip during Spring Break. In good news for Indian Country, 75% of those travelers are reporting they plan to stay on domestic soil.

If you are interested in growing your inbound visitor traffic, we at AIANTA stand ready to help. First, I recommend you download our free Travel Trade Manual, which we released last October. This guide comes with a handy checklist to help you in your planning process.

If you’re ready to get out and meet with travel suppliers to sell your program, I highly recommend you join us at our annual Go International (April 19-20, 2022). This year’s program features a significant hands-on program, including an interactive session, where you can pitch your tourism product directly to Destination America, an international destination management company, which organizes on-the-ground programs for major tour operators like Trafalgar and Insight Vacations. You’ll also meet Patty Talahongva, producer for Indian Country Today TV, who will give tips on how to promote and sell your tourism product to the media. We have many other great speakers planned for the two-day program, including Kate Anderson (Citizen Potawatomi), AIANTA Board Member and Public Relations Director for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, who will talk about the importance of storytelling in creating a tourism product. For more information and a complete agenda, visit our Go International page now.

As we begin to see a return of visitors to Indian Country, my own travel schedule is also returning to pre-pandemic levels. Later this month, I’ll be the keynote at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Heritage and  Cultural Tourism Conference. Then in early April, I’ll be attending my first U.S. Travel Association Board Meeting, after having been appointed a new board member for the industry association earlier this year. Future travel plans also include Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism and NCAIED’s RES in May. I’ll also be heading to Orlando to attend the international tradeshow IPW in June accompanied by tribal partners. We still have partnership slots available if you’d like to join us!

Also, on tap for AIANTA is the return of our State of Indian Country Tourism Survey, where we ask you to tell us how you think the industry is doing. Please take five minutes now to complete this short survey. Speaking of research, we recently announced our new partnership with SMS Research out of Honolulu, so stay tuned for more information on the outcome of that study as well.

We will also be rolling out the next session of our 2022 AIANTA Town Hall Series in April. Scheduled for April 27, 2022, at 1 p.m. (MDT), I’ll be co-hosting the session with Emerson Vallo (Pueblo of Acoma), President of AIANTA’s Board of Directors. We’ll be announcing the next steps in our partnership with Leave No Trace, so if you’re interested in how to sustainably manage visitor impacts on our outdoor lands, you won’t want to miss this session.

Finally, of course, we are deep into the planning stages for our 24th Annual American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC), which will be held in Funner, California (October 24-27, 2022) and hosted in partnership with the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians. Online registration will open shortly, but in the meantime, please let us know if you are interested in sponsoring AITC, speaking at an AITC breakout session, or if you are able to contribute an item to our Silent Auction, the proceeds of which go to support AIANTA’s Hospitality and Tourism Scholarship Program.

As always, AIANTA’s programming is intended to help our Native American, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native communities and indigenous-owned businesses succeed when it comes to creating and growing their own cultural tourism programming. We look forward to connecting with you in the coming months during our Town Hall Session, through our program offerings and as we begin to travel. As always feel free to reach out to us if we can provide any assistance with your tourism efforts.  We love to hear from you!

(See you later, Northern Paiute)


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