Tourism through a Native perspective

`Ano`ai kakou… On February 6, 2014, the Board of Trustees voted to support OHA’s partnership with the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) to participate in the 2014 ITB Berlin Travel Trade Show.

This action is part of an effort to provide Native Hawaiian beneficiaries with greater self-sufficiency by giving them greater control over marketing their history and culture internationally and bring about a stronger, more authentic Native Hawaiian identity in the minds of travelers around the world.

The knowledge brought back from ITB Berlin will also assist our beneficiaries to develop authentic Hawaiian cultural travel experiences to market in the future.

Partnering with AIANTA

I have served on the AIANTA board of directors since February 12, 2013. 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. With my participation, the Pacific region can now be represented.

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.

AIANTA Invitation to ITB Berlin: March 5-9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany

Thanks to my close working relationship with AIANTA, OHA has been invited to share a portion of AIANTA’s booth space in their Pavilion at ITB Berlin. Until now, Native Hawaiians were the only Native people in America not participating in this prestigious event.

Future AIANTA Partnership Opportunities

AIANTA President Sherry Rupert, who also serves as the Executive Director of the State of Nevada Indian Commission, was appointed this past June to the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. Rupert’s appointment helps to further strengthen AIANTA’s working relationship with the U.S. Commerce Department. Rupert is also a Benton Paiute tribal member.

The Obama administration, through agencies such as the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Park Service, is working to promote Native American culture and arts and to demonstrate the contributions they have made to United States.

AIANTA recently worked with the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service (NPS) to develop a historical book on the 20,000 American Indians who fought in the Civil War. A similar historical project could be put together for Hawaii’s National Parks.

The advantages of developing partnerships with these federal agencies are enormous. Hawaii has National Parks that need more federal funding. Being able tell our story through our National Parks, like other Native peoples throughout the United States have done, is only one of the many potential advantages of participating in ITB Berlin with AIANTA.

Both the National Park Service and the Department of Interior have significant funding set aside for the promotion of Native American projects. Why should Native Hawaiians be left out?