American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association Celebrates 25 Years as the Leader in Indigenous and Cultural Heritage Tourism During U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel & Tourism Week May 7-13, 2023

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (May 8, 2023) – The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), the only national organization dedicated to advancing cultural tourism in Native Nations and communities across the United States, celebrates 25 years as the leader in indigenous tourism during the U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) May 7-13, 2023.

Established in 1983, NTTW is an annual tradition to mark the U.S. travel industry’s role in stimulating economic growth, cultivating vibrant communities, creating quality job opportunities, stimulating business activity and elevating the quality of life for everyday Americans.

Travel serves as a catalyst for a productive U.S. economy and helps power the success of other industries. American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian owned hospitality businesses contribute $14 billion in annual sales to the tourism and hospitality sector in the U.S., according to the Economic Impact of U.S. Indigenous Tourism Businesses Report.

“As the only organization specifically dedicated to advancing Indian Country tourism across the country, we are excited to celebrate the 40th Annual National Travel and Tourism Week with our collaborative partner the U.S. Travel Association,” said AIANTA CEO Sherry L. Rupert. “AIANTA is proud to continue engaging with our partners, members, Tribes and tourism leaders around the world for the next 25 years and beyond as we grow cultural tourism capacity for Native Nations and communities, offer education and training opportunities, and expand markets across the globe so that American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian owned businesses can realize their full potential in this powerful industry.”

AIANTA has delivered on its mission over the last two and a half decades to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values with several key accomplishments, most notably its successful legislative work that led to the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act (NATIVE Act) funding in 2018, as Indian Country Tourism was recognized through federal appropriations via NATIVE Act implementation; and in 2016, as AIANTA was awarded the U.S. President’s “E” Award for organizations contributing significantly to increase U.S. exports.

The national nonprofit continues to build upon its 25 years of strategic partnerships across Native Nations and communities, federal, state, and the travel industry as together they facilitate a thriving Indigenous tourism industry. These partnerships allow AIANTA to elevate Native destinations among travelers, tour operators, travel agents, and the media while extending the reach of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian owned businesses and ensuring authentic Native experiences. Both formal and informal partnerships include but are not limited to the U.S. Travel Association, Brand USA, U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Economic Development, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, International Trade Administration, National Congress of American Indians, National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, American Association of Parks and Recreation, National Tour Association, Leave No Trace, and numerous state tourism organizations.

“With 574 federally recognized tribes in the U.S., each with a unique story to tell, we believe that the true stories of our peoples can only be told from our voices and perspectives,” Rupert added. “By developing and implementing programs and providing economic development opportunities, AIANTA helps tribes build for their future while sustaining and strengthening their cultural legacy.”

Tribes who are looking to start or expand their cultural tourism footprint can find resources at and visitors interested in learning more about Native culture can visit To learn more about National Travel and Tourism Week visit


Celebrating 25 years this year, AIANTA was established by tribes for tribes to address inequities in the tourism system. Governed by an all-Native board of directors, AIANTA serves as a united voice for the $14 billion Native hospitality sector. AIANTA’s priorities are; 1) to provide technical assistance and training, research, and publications to American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities engaged in tourism and hospitality; 2) to facilitate conversations with the Native communities, federal agencies, non-profit associations, and elected officials on the economic and cultural importance of a healthy hospitality industry; 3) to highlight the importance of visiting authentic Native destinations, including cultural, heritage, historic, and artistic sites; and 4) to generate awareness, interest and demand for these destinations with domestic and international travelers, the travel trade and the media.