This month, Native representatives from across Alaska will flock to Anchorage for the 2015 Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Annual Convention and Tradeshow, where the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) will host a cultural tourism educational breakout session and general session address – the first time tourism will be a featured topic at this convention.
The AFN Convention is the largest representative annual gathering in the United States of any Native peoples and draws nearly 5,000 attendees each year.
“It’s crucial to bring tourism into the discussion at an event like this,” said Camille Ferguson, AIANTA Executive Director. “AFN’s convention is the perfect venue for AIANTA to educate and create awareness to all of the Alaska Native communities on the economic benefits, trends, initiatives and opportunities for tourism development that can benefit rural areas of Alaska.”
The cultural tourism session will be held Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. in Tubughenqu-4 at the Dena’ina Center.
At the cultural tourism meeting Ferguson, along with Rachel Moreno, AIANTA Board Vice President and Vice Chair of the Sitka Tribal Council will educate attendees on the vast opportunities cultural tourism offers as well as AIANTA’s main initiatives to promote and enhance Indian Country tourism throughout the world. These initiatives include international tradeshows, AIANTA’s annual American Indian Tourism Conference, and perhaps most imperative this year, AIANTA’s new destination website, NativeAmerica.Travel.
NativeAmerica.Travel, which launched earlier this month at AIANTA’s annual American Indian Tourism Conference, is the first destination website ever to represent American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism across the United States. Alaska Native tribes and tribal businesses now have the opportunity to list their tribe, attractions, and accommodations on the website, free of charge. Anna Barrera, the website’s content and development coordinator will be onsite during the cultural tourism session to provide training and more information on tribal inclusion on the new site.
Also presenting on cultural tourism and how to develop a tour product is Mario Fulmer, AIANTA Alaska Regional Board Representative and Programs Manager at Alaska Native Voices.
“This year we have more opportunities for tribes than ever before. With expanded international outreach efforts, regional education, and the new destination website, AIANTA is able to better equip tribes and tribal businesses with the resources they need for success in the tourism industry,” said Ferguson.
Another a topic of discussion at the cultural tourism session will be the Native American Tourism & Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act, which was recently introduced in the House, with support from Congressman Don Young. The Act is set to enhance and integrate Native American tourism, empower native communities, increase coordination and collaboration between Federal tourism assets, and expand heritage and cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.
This year’s AFN Convention, will be held at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska October 15 – 17 and will feature a renowned Alaska Native customary art show. The annual event is a private gathering of delegate and membership, but AFN welcomes visitors to all the central activities including assembly sessions with speakers and forums, and the art show and sale/AFN exhibit fair.
For more information about AFN and the annual convention, visit http://www.nativefederation.org/annual-convention/.
The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit association of American Indian tribes, tribal tourism, cultural and private sector representatives, representatives from the tourism industry, Federal, State and local governments, colleges and universities, and friends that was incorporated in 2002 to advance Indian Country tourism. The association is made up of representatives from six regions: Alaska, Eastern, Midwest, Pacific, Plains and the Southwest. AIANTA’s mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values.
The purpose of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association is to provide our constituents with the voice and tools needed to advance tourism while helping tribes, tribal organizations and tribal members create infrastructure and capacity through technical assistance, training and educational resources. AIANTA serves as the liaison among Indian Country, governmental, educational and private entities for the development, growth, and sustenance of Indian Country tourism. By developing and implementing programs and facilitating economic development opportunities, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association helps tribes build for their future while sustaining and strengthening their cultural legacy.