`Ano`ai kakou… Thanks to my close working relationship with the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), OHA was able to partner with them for a second year in the ITB Berlin Travel Trade Show from March 2-9, 2015. Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs were once again represented in this prestigious event.
The ITB Berlin Travel Trade Show provides a tremendous opportunity for our Native Hawaiian beneficiaries to develop their self-sufficiency by giving them greater control over the marketing of their history and culture internationally and by bringing about a stronger, more authentic Native Hawaiian identity in the minds of travelers around the world.
I have served on the AIANTA board of directors for over two years. AIANTA is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit association formed in 1999 to help federally recognized tribes market their unique stories to visitors and to facilitate the ease to which travelers can explore Indian Country. The association is made up of member tribes from the following regions: Eastern, Plains, Midwest, Southwest, and Alaska. The Pacific region is now being represented thanks to my participation.
Each March, AIANTA sponsors an expansive Native American Indian booth located within the United States Pavilion at ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel trade show with more than 170,000 visitors, including 110,000 trade visitors and over 10,086 exhibitors from 180 countries. The Pavilion attracts large crowds of participants and hundreds of international travel agents.
The success of our experience in 2014 encouraged another Hawaiian organization to participate with us in this year’s ITB Berlin Travel Trade Show.
Pohai Ryan, Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NAHHA), accompanied us to ITB Berlin this year. NAHHA had never participated before but after recently joining AIANTA, they have learned the value of promoting our indigenous cultures collectively to the European market. It is NAHHA’s goal to promote guided Huaka`i conducted by Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs, to promote the programs of NAHHA and advocate for a greater Hawaiian cultural presence in our state’s tourism industry. As part of their participation with AIANTA, NAHHA has worked to arrange private meetings with wholesalers who have been carefully vetted to meet with them, matching the profile they have specified.
Also as a result of my involvement last year, five Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs from Kauai decided to participate in this year’s ITB Travel Trade Show. Hopefully, next year we will be able to have even more Hawaiian businesses participating.
I look forward to working with NAHHA on other projects to ensure that only authentic and quality representations of Hawaiian culture are portrayed in the hospitality industry. We will also look for more opportunities to provide a strong voice in support of Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs.