- By American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association
AITC, scheduled for October 2-5, 2023, at Choctaw Casino & Resort-Durant is organized by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and will be held on the tribal homelands of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in Durant, OK.
Registration is open for the 25th Annual American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC), which will be held on the tribal homelands of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, October 2-5, 2023, at the Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant, Oklahoma and organized by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA).
AIANTA, the only national organization dedicated to advancing cultural tourism in Native Nations and communities across the United States, will celebrate 25 years at AITC as the leader in indigenous tourism. Each year, the AITC attracts more than 300 attendees who participate for second-to-none networking opportunities, high-level keynote sessions and informative breakout sessions led by some of the hospitality industry’s leading experts.
American Indian Tourism Conference
Date: October 2-5, 2023
Location: Choctaw Casino & Resort-Durant
4216 S. Hwy 69/75
Durant, OK 74701
This year’s AITC will take place at the Choctaw Casino & Resort, which is a AAA Four Diamond resort, entertainment, and convention destination in Durant, Oklahoma. Located less than 100 miles northeast of Dallas, Texas, east of the Chickasaw Nation, Durant is the city where fun lives. The Sky Tower opened in August 2021 and doubled the occupancy making it the largest hotel in the state. Whether you are relaxing by Oklahoma’s largest pool, watching sporting events on the giant screen, eating a luxurious meal, or enjoying the hottest musical entertainment, Choctaw provides Las Vegas style amenities to fit just about everyone’s pleasure. There is even a children friendly area with bowling, movies, and arcade games. “Halito from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma - we welcome AIANTA and are honored to host the 2023 AITC,” said Gary Batton, Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “Tourism is large and growing sector of our reservation economy, and we look forward to sharing our ideas, accomplishments, and the Chahta culture,” he said.
The 25th anniversary theme, "We are Still Here!" captures the enduring spirit and resilience of the 574 federally recognized Tribes and Native Hawaiians who have called these lands and waters their home for centuries. As AIANTA celebrates this milestone, we too are reminded of the challenges we have faced and overcome, emerging stronger and more determined than ever to amplify the voices of our people and share their stories with the world. Starting with a simple idea, we have grown to become a leading force in the tourism industry, setting the stage for even greater success in the next 25 years and beyond. "We are Still Here!" not only honors our past, but also represents our unwavering commitment to the future.
“This year’s American Indian Tourism Conference promises to be our largest gathering yet as we celebrate 25 years as the only national conference dedicated to growing travel and tourism in America’s Native Nations and communities,” said AIANTA CEO Sherry L. Rupert. “AIANTA is proud to partner with our host the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to bring best-in-class education, training and networking opportunities, as American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-owned hospitality businesses continue to contribute to the growing tourism and hospitality sector in the U.S.”
Mobile workshops are an AITC tradition as AIANTA partners with the local host Tribe to showcase Native tourism experiences around the conference host site. On Monday, October 2, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will provide guests with two one-of-a-kind cultural tourism experiences including the new Choctaw Cultural Center and a visit to the Tribe’s reservation in southeast Oklahoma. In addition, the Chickasaw Nation, located in south-central Oklahoma, invites you to explore the historical sites of Chickasaw Country in a fun-filled day of hands on-activities, historical demonstrations, and behind-the-scenes tours.
A favorite AITC event, the Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards, will honor the best and brightest in Indian Country tourism including Tribal Destination of the Year, Best Cultural Heritage Experience, Excellence in Customer Service, and Industry Professional Award. This event is accompanied by dinner and a silent auction on Wednesday, October 4. The auction raises funds for AIANTA’s tourism and hospitality scholarship program.
Conference registration is $625 for AIANTA members who register by the standard rate deadline (September 14, 2023). A select number of exhibitor spaces are available at $800 per booth for members and $1,000 for non-members. As with previous years, the conference will also feature a Business of Art Seminar and Native Art Market, and artisans are encouraged to secure a table for $300. To register and learn more about AITC, visit www.aianta.org/aitc.
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.
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.
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