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National Travel Exchange Features Indian Country Tourism for First Time

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For the first time ever, Tribal tourism is a topic of focus at the national Travel Exchange, held January 31 - February 4, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) is bringing that conversation to the forefront.

Camille Ferguson, AIANTA executive director, presented on the relevance, scope and opportunities for Indian country tourism at the National Tour Association's (NTA) Travel Exchange on February 2.

Travel Exchange is a member-only, annual event that combines the NTA Convention and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Conference on one floor. The convention features business to business meetings between buyers and sellers in the industry, and includes new travel product in all 50 states. Travel Exchange offers practical education, countless networking opportunities, and in the past three years Travel Exchange attendees generated $393 million in business, according to NTA’s website.

Ferguson honed in on tourism trends at the session "Tribal Tourism is Good for the USA!" and highlighted NativeAmerica.Travel, AIANTA's new destination website showcasing Indian country tourism across the country.

Ferguson represented Indian country tourism on a national scale, sharing the economic impacts and benefits of tourism to Indian country and focus ingon the importance of partnerships within the national industry and Native America.

She delved into AIANTA’s projects, programs and partnerships being developed to enhance, grow and sustain tribal tourism within the U.S., while also introducing session participants to new initiatives intended to develop tourism within local communities and states.

“With the inclusion of Indian country tourism at one of the nation’s largest business-to-business conventions, we are making great strides towards increased and more developed partnerships between tribes and the tourism industry at regional and national levels,” said Ferguson. “We are thrilled to help more industry leaders realize the shared benefits that tourism in Indian country can bring, from economic and business development to cultural proliferation.”

AIANTA and NTA recently announced their memorandum of understanding (MOU) for expanded collaboration opportunities and enriched education and cultural exchange within the tourism industry.

The purpose of the new MOU is to establish a general framework for cooperation and collaboration between AIANTA and NTA to help accelerate both organizations’ goals and initiatives within the industry. Both organizations view tribal tourism, recreation and heritage resources as economic and cultural assets that will increase in value with expanded collaboration between both groups, especially through development of and education about tribal tourism.

AIANTA is additionally gearing up for ITB Berlin's 50th anniversary, March 9-13, 2016, the world’s largest travel trade show anticipating roughly 10,000 exhibitors and organisations from more than 180 countries.