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International Travelers Boost Tribal Tourism; AIANTA to Address Catering to Overseas Market

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International tourism is thriving in Indian country, setting record numbers in the past three years. These overseas visitors are boosting the U.S. economy. According to U.S. Department of Commererce research, travelers to Native communities generally spend 12 more days in the states than those who don't visit Indian country. And 67 percent of those visitors are leisure travelers, meaning they spend more money than other travelers.

The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) is bringing in international tourism experts to address this new trend. The organization has extended its international training and education tract to include three separate session topics during the annual American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC), September 13-17, 2015, at the Sky Ute Casino Resort in Ignacio, Colorado.

One session will detail tourism and itinerary development for the international market, highlighting experienced and successful Indian country tour programs, as well as the world famous Tauck World Discovery Tours.

Among the speakers will be Harold Simpson of Trailhandler Tours in Monument Valley. He and Deborah Simpson lead their family operation of tourguides, all Navajos who were born and raised in the beautiful and enchanting Monument Valley. They prouldy take visitors through their ancestral lands and childhood playground, and share their great-grandfather Grey Whiskers' legacy, for whom a great rock formation in Monument Valley is named. Visit for more information.

Joining Simpson on this panel will be Paige Williams, director of tourism for the Chickasaw Nation, one of Indian Country’s top destinations, as well as Roger Saterstrom, product manager for Tauck World Discovery, known world-wide for their unique tours and experiences.

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AITC will additionally include a session devoted to planning and preparing tourism businesses for the international tradeshows, ITB Berlin and IPW. Leading the conversation will be Neville Bhada, founder and CEO of Tourism Skills Group, a company devoted to the research and strategic planning needs of the travel and tourism industry. Speaking with Bhada on this expert panel will be Mary Motsenbocker, president of International Tourism Marketing, Inc., with more than 30 years’ experience in tourism marketing, representation and education.

Lastly, back at AITC by popular demand is a session presented by a panel of representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, discussing the impact of the international traveler on the economy, both on a national scale and in Indian Country. AIANTA is excited to welcome to this panel Paul Bergman, Director of Denver U.S. Export Assistance Center (serving the states of Colorado and Wyoming) for the U.S. Department of Commerce; and Ron Erdman, Deputy Director of Research for the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, U.S. Department of Commerce. Also joining this panel is Donatello Osti, Commercial Specialist at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Italy, to share his expert knowledge on the Italian market and their potential impact on the U.S. economy.


The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit association of Native American tribes and tribal businesses that was incorporated in 2002 to advance Indian Country tourism. The association is made up of member tribes from six regions: Alaska, Eastern, Midwest, Pacific, Plains and the Southwest. AIANTA’s mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian and Alaska Native tourism that honors traditions and values.

The purpose of AIANTA 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 between Indian Country, governmental and private entities for the development, growth, and sustenance of Indian Country tourism. By developing and implementing programs and providing economic development opportunities, AIANTA helps tribes build for their future while sustaining and strengthening their cultural legacy.

To learn more, please visit For current updates, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@OfficialAIANTA).