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The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) and the International Inbound Travel Association (IITA) on Thursday announced that the organizations have entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a shared goal to grow international visitation to destinations and properties across Native Nations and communities in the United States.

Thursday’s  announcement comes after the MOU was actually signed in front of more than 350 attendees at AIANTA’s 25th Annual American Indigenous Tourism Conference last week at the Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant, Oklahoma.

On an ongoing basis, AIANTA seeks to grow its partnerships around the world to attract more tourists to Indian Country. The goal is to get international travelers from outside the United States to visit tribal lands while traveling to the United States. 

“As AIANTA continues to grow our partnerships across the globe, it’s important to have an ally with strong international travel practices like the International Inbound Travel Association, who shares in our mission to define, introduce, grow, and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism in the U.S.,” AIANTA CEO Sherry L. Rupert said. “Strengthening linkage between AIANTA and IITA will help inbound travel operators work better and more efficiently with our Native Nations and communities.”

The MOU will also aim to educate IITA inbound operators on how to do business with Native-owned businesses as well as sell Native tour products.

"Strengthening the linkage between our associations will help our members make connections and better understand how to work with one another," said IITA CEO Lisa Simon. ‘With a mission to grow inbound travel to the U.S. by providing the best and widest range of product, services and information to the international travel trade, IITA serves as the bridge to international inbound business and is committed to serving the needs of its members and to advancing the industry as a whole.”

For 25 years, AIANTA has served as the only national organization dedicated to advancing cultural tourism in tribal nations and communities across the United States and was established by tribes to serve 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 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.

Tribes who are looking to start or expand their cultural tourism footprint can find resources at www.aianta.org and visitors interested in learning more about Native culture can visit www.nativeamerica.travel. To learn more about the International Inbound Travel Association, visit https://inboundtravel.org/.

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